Today was an unusual day in my town. Five blocks down the street from where I live, there was a funeral for a former President of the United States. Lucy got out of school in time to walk to the Episcopal church with Sara and see the honor guard and the secret service and the hundreds of onlookers. They also caught a fleeting glimpse of Dick Cheney. Apparently Jimmy Carter was there, too.
As I was about to leave work, I heard a loud roar from above. I gathered at one of the large windows with a few of my co-workers, and we watched as 21 fighter jets soared overhead, very close to the ground. As the last of the formations flew by, a single jet peeled off from the group and shot straight up at a blistering pace. Then it stopped. It hung motionless in the air. It began to drift to the left and down, down before gathering speed once more and flying away in the opposite direction from the others. It was a moving sight to behold.
I learned tonight that the planes were flying in the “missing man” formation. Just before they did their thing, there was an artillery salute and a 21-gun rifle salute, neither of which I heard — maybe because the office has good sound insulation or maybe because I had my iPod’s volume up too loud.
As I walked out the door of my office building and looked to my left, I saw a huge swell of people coming towards me like a tidal wave. I sprinted to the parking lot and hopped in my car just as the first of those who watched Ford’s burial started evacuating the city. Two minutes later and there would have been little chance of my getting to karate class before it was nearly over.