Under the Arch

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Two years ago this weekend, my brand new husband and I took a long weekend trip with some friends of ours. The wife came down with bronchitis and decided to stay home, but her husband, my husband and I decided to still go. We would be meeting up with our friend’s brother once we arrived.

St. Louis was our destination for sightseeing, day drinking, and forgetting the real world for three days.

The friend that we went with is one of our favorites to travel with, and we have spent many weekends exploring new cities and sites.

On the list of adventures this particular weekend was a trip to the top of the St. Louis Arch. I had not been in the top since I was a child.

As we waited in line approaching security, we were laughing and joking. I realized that our two friends became quieter. My husband and I went through the metal detectors, laughing and joking with the security guards.

As we grabbed our belongings, I looked behind me at our friend’s and it became clear to me.

Where my white husband and I saw a reason to joke, our two black friends saw something different. Their easy smiles were replaced with straight faces. Hands held high, steps slow and deliberate. They were serious, almost stoic as they went through the short process. 

They completed security with no issues and we went on to enjoy our time and tour. The laughs and smiles returned.

There was no incident on that day. No one was arrested. Or worse. 

But that image, and what it represents has stayed with me.

I have never approached a security check point and been nervous. I have never been pulled over and been afraid.

This is simply not my reality, not my kids’ reality.

But this is the reality for our friends, for their children, for much of our country.

Eye opening experiences are different for everyone. A security screening at the Arch was one for me.

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