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Second Platoon

Early this morning, the platoon of gun-metal soldiers at the Korean War Memorial doubled in size. Not gray, these soldiers. But white and brown men, women and boys and girls, dressed in colors of the rainbow -- green shorts, pink t-shirts, white tank tops. Moving in and around the gray beings frozen in time, this second platoon dipped and whirled with long-handled cleaning brushes instead of rifles with bayonets. The liquid running down the faces, backs, cloaks and boots of the soldiers was not blood, but soapy water. The volunteers, commanded by two National Park Service rangers, scrub the soldiers and the black marble strips they stand on. Quiet. Working. The Korean soldiers, talking into their walkies or mouths open and shouting to the man ahead, are so much louder.

More things I see on a morning walk on the Mall. Boxes of covered barricaded fireworks lining the reflecting pool. Two young snow-white retrievers -- what are they called? "snowden retrievers?" -- jog past with their owners, tongues lolling. Brown eyes laughing. A man jogs past and I smell cologne flying behind him. Near the monument, a bready-pool of old vomit on the grass by the sidewalk. The DC Memorial to WWI, clean and white and quiet in its grove.

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