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Monday, October 11, 2010

The Year of Our Lord. In Wings.

National Archives

Soooooo...what can I tell you about The National Archives? Well. I'll tell you. I learned some interesting things...

Now, The Archives is chock full of old documents and photographs and letters, but there are the crown jewels that make the place incredible. One of those documents is the Magna Carta, from 1215 and still in amazing shape. Another is the original Declaration of Independence from 1776, which is in terrible shape, but still awesome to see.

Then, of course, there is The Constitution of The United States of America, ratified in 1787 and amended only 27 times since then - The Bill of Rights added 10 amendments in 1791, and the other 17 amendments were scattered over the next 200 years.

It's the CONSTITUTION, man. It's an amazing document of the ages, so Kristi and I were taking our time looking at the four cases that house the four pages in the center of the display area on what appears to be the altar to democracy. When we got to the last case, we met up with a security guard who I can only assume was studying to be a docent on the side.

In correspondence school.

That she ordered out of the back of MAD Magazine.

As we approached, she (let's just call her "Rosie." I don't know why. She just looked like a "Rosie.") saw us reading the last part of the document, and asked Kristi to read the last paragraph out loud.

Like in school. "Read this part OUT LOUD for the rest of the class, please." Man, I hated that.

inwings

So, Kristi starts reading, and does really well (good job, Kris...) until she gets to this part...

inwingshighlighted

Wait...here's a closer look...

inwingshighlightedcrop

You can clearly see that it says, "TAWIFNEFS," or maybe "FAMIFAFS," or something like that. It's that weird, calligraphic script that those wily founding fathers used to use in order to confuse the regular people with their fanciness.

In any case, Kristi gets bogged down there, I'm peering over the case trying to decipher the words, the line is getting backed up behind us and the security guard starts talking to us as if we were not terribly bright children.

Rosie:  "Read it again. OUT LOUD."

Kristi:  "Yes, Ma'am. Done in convention..."

Rosie:  "Go to the dates. Do you see the dates?"

Kristi:  "Yes Ma'am. (Please understand the woman has a gun. A docent. WITH A GUN.) The seventeenth of September in the Year of our Lord.."

Rosie:  "Did you see that? 'The Year of our Lord?' Mmmhmmm..."

Kristi:  "Yes Ma'am. That's the only date I see."

Rosie:  "Well, you need to keep reading."

Kristi:  "...Yes Ma'am. (Suddenly the gun begins to look threatening instead of security-inducing.) I just don't see another date."

Rosie:  "You will if you keep reading. Keep reading...OUT LOUD."

Kristi:  "...And of the Independence of the United States the Twelfth...I can't read this next word here."

Rosie:  "You see...the twelfth. That's the day they started writing the Constitution*. The next part says, 'In Wings.'"

Kristi:  "In Wings?"

Rosie:  "Yes. In Wings. It's what they would write when they were doing the Lord's work. IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD. In WINGS."

*crickets chirping*

Diahn:  "I think it says, In Witness**."

Rosie:  "In WINGS."

Diahn:  "In witness?"

Rosie:  "IN WINGS."

Diahn:  "Yes Ma'am."



*This is, surprisingly, not correct. The constitutional convention began in May of 1787 and lasted through ratification in September. The "Twelfth" referred to here is the twelfth year of the independence of the United States.

**It does, indeed say "In Witness."