A month has passed since the Virginia earthquake and it looks like the Washington Monument is going to be closed indefinitely until a team of engineers can check every stone. The WaPo reports:
Officials said a “debris field,” made up mostly of mortar that had fallen during the quake, had been found at the base and that more substantial pieces of stone had fallen loose inside the monument.[…]
[Mall superintended Bob Vogel] said the worst damage happened in the pyramidium, the pyramid-shaped top of the structure, where cracks up to 11 / 4 inches wide developed in the mortar and stone. “Daylight is visible at a number of the vertical joints where mortar is missing,” he said.
As a result, a substantial amount of water has been getting into the monument, which could cause more damage.
The other Washington landmark significantly damaged in the earthquake was the National Cathedral, the magnificent stone church where many important national commemorations and funerals are held. The highest of its stone towers were toppled, and there, too architects are checking for structural damage.
In ancient times, the damage to two unique symbols of national identity by something as rare as an East Coast earthquake which did little or no damage to more pedestrian and less symbolic structures would have been highly noteworthy. We would be rending our garments, consulting the Sibylline books and repenting in sackcloth and ashes after so a clear a demonstration of divine wrath.
These days we do nothing at all. No doubt this is much more progressive and intelligent. After all, there is absolutely nothing going on in Washington or the country at large that could cause anyone or anything to warn us to mend our ways. The K Street lobbyists and the Beltway Bandits don’t even pause in the favor swapping and the deal making to wonder if something is wrong.
Reasonable enough. “In God we trust” is so eighteenth century; we seem to have moved on to something more contemporary. “What, Me Worry?” has none of that superstitious claptrap that so annoys the ACLU, and it will look great on the next boatload of low interest government bonds that we ship to our good friends in China.