A couple thousand people gathered on the lawn, stairs and upper deck of the Capitol to take in the eclipse Monday. The observation deck was closed, but that didn't deter throngs of eclipse-watchers from gathering at the people's house to see a once-in-a-lifetime something, together.
Throughout the last year, most times there were anything close to this many people gathered outside the Capitol, they were angry about something and shouting at their countrymen.
But for about an hour on Monday afternoon, and especially during those magic moments of totality, a united people was able to forget this season of constant crises and look to the sky with a smile on their face.
There were no fights, arguments or scuffles. Every child in attendance was giggling, grinning and gazing skyward with expressions of utmost delight. Not even a pesky blanket of clouds could stop strangers from speaking to each other, laughing, offering up bits of eclipse trivia and affirming that yes, this is very cool.
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Different groups took in the cosmic spectacle differently. Some had telescopes set up. Some had cameras. Some sat in chairs with certainly very legal beverages in those coozies. Some sprawled out on blankets or watched leaning on their bicycles. Some spoke English, some didn't. Some had special glasses, others had homemade mechanisms crafted from cereal boxes, colanders, aluminum foil and paper plates.
Everyone shared something in common, however -- a unity of purpose. For 90 seconds, everything under the sun seemed to stand still. Two thousand people all staring at the same point in space, smiling and oohing and aahing and clapping. Clapping for what? For the sheer joy of seeing a once-in-a-lifetime sight, glimpsing the immensity of the cosmos, and doing it together as one big happy society.
-- Casey Welsch