Chicagoans in D.C. pay tribute to fallen
BY MAUDLYNE IHEJIRIKA Staff Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org January 20, 2013 10:52PM
The Frazier grandkids at Arlington National Cemetery, L-R, Mckinley Wright, 14; Brian Jackson, 12; Semaja Frazier, 12; and Asia Wright, 16. | Maudlyne Ihejirika ~Sun-Times
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Updated: February 22, 2013 6:32AM
The Chicago Sun-Times is chronicling the inauguration journey of the Frazier Family of Marquette Park, in a reprisal of its 2009 “Road Trip to History” series.
WASHINGTON — After a 14-hour bus trip and arriving at a Harrisburg, Penn., hotel near midnight, the Frazier family of Marquette Park rises early Sunday. Their group of 98 boards a bus toward inauguration-consumed Washington, D.C. Claudia Bolton, 54, of Chatham, leads the bus in a hymm and a prayer.
First stop: Arlington National Cemetery. The walking odyssey begins. But it’s a beautiful day, a balmy, 40 to 50 degrees. It seeps into spirits, even as you traverse miles and miles of tombstones. “I sure hope it’s this nice tomorrow, not freezing like last year,” says Asia Wright, 16.
Amidst the sacrifice represented here, even the rambunctious Frazier grandkids have quieted.
The Fraziers follow the masses toward the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers. Lionel Jackson, a public safety aide here for seven years, says President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden’s motorcade visited the tomb this morning.
The Fraziers catch the poignant wreath-laying ceremony at the tomb at noon. Uniforms. A rifle. Taps playing. Hands over hearts. Wreaths laid. Salutes. Then the ever-constant guard continues its march before the tomb.
Next stop: The Martin Luther King Memorial, where they find multitudes. Americans have clearly converged on D.C. to pay homage to two men. Somewhere in the crowd, “We Shall Overcome,” breaks out softly.
National Park Services Ranger Kawther Elmi, says of the inordinate crowds at the memorial: “It is already very well-visited, but the intersection of the inauguration & the holiday creates a lot of energy.”
The grandkids are wide-eyed and awestruck by the memorial’s massiveness, and lifelike nature. Matriarch Pamela Frazier gets a call from son Marquis Wright, 32, who flew into D.C. with friends Friday. He’s at the MLK Memorial looking for them. The search is on. Finally, he is spotted in the crowd! Hugs and glee abound.
Dusk, and the group reboards, heading back to Harrisburg, where they face a 4 a.m. wake-up call if they are to be in place for the inauguration at noon. Monday will be a challenge.