Freedom Underground

On this Fourth of July in our nation’s capitol, thousands will celebrate the American Way of Life and look to the sky in wonder. But they would be just as awestruck if they could see what’s going on beneath their feet, where a massive project is underway to dig a drainage tunnel that will help clean up Washington D.C.’s rivers, the Potomac and the Anacostia.

The capitol city is separating its storm and sanitary sewer systems, a $ 2.6 billion twenty year project to prevent the overflow of raw sewage into the rivers – something the Twin Cities achieved in 1995 but a calamity that still happens regularly in our federal city to the tune of about 3 billion gallons each year.

When I think about the privileges we share as Americans, I recognize that much of it comes from the founders and the military and the sacred documents and all the other things we regularly celebrate on the Fourth.

But a lot of it also has to do with infrastructure.

A country left festering in its own sewage cannot advance the health and welfare of its citizens, so when we’re being grateful for our peace and prosperity let’s remember to thank the people who keep our own poop out of the streets.

Just as Francis Scott Key swiped an old drinking tune and wrote new words to celebrate an icon of freedom that was partially obscured by darkness, I propose we sing an ode to this completely invisible but oh-so-necessary subterranean tunnel project.

It’s not that weird. Key’s original lyrics feature three extra verses that we never use, and one of them already includes the word “pollution.”

Down where no one can see, out of mind out of sight,
excess leakage is bailed from the rivulets streaming.
It’s as airless as Mars, and with even less light.
But we’re digging our way to a future that’s gleaming.

In the laser’s red glare, tunnel builders know where
they are heading tonight, although we’re unaware.
Oh say does that underground excavator still pave
through the sand of under D.C., and the loam of the brave?

Who deserves an ode?

4 thoughts on “Freedom Underground”

  1. Sorry, Baboons, for the comment-free fourth. Mysteriously a box got unchecked in the behind-the-scenes workings and replies were disabled for this post for the day. My apologies!

    Resourceful readers went to other posts to add their answers. I’ll paste some of them in below!

    verily sherrilee:
    Morning all – Happy Fourth. Commenting here since today’s post doesn’t seem to want me to add a
    I know someone who needs an ode. Thorin won a prize at the Tangletown Parade today – Most Handsome Boy Dog!

    Congratulations to Thorin. What was his prize?

    verily sherrilee:
    He won a ribbon and a fuzzy soccer ball squeaky toy – which Rhiannon immediately claimed. They are both sleeping right now and Rhiannon has the toy between her paws.

    woo hoo thorin

    Barbara in Robbinsdale:
    Happy Fourth – I just visited my mom and they had her in the only red outfit she has – her flapper costume dress! – complete with red knee highs and blue earrings. Wish I’d had my camera…

    go back

    so who deserves and ode anyway
    i was thinking obama could do with an ode,
    pope francis is odeworthy
    how about beethoven he wrote one but nobody ever wrote one for him poor ludy von

    verily sherrilee:
    whoever invited the fourth of july parade needs an ode. just got back from the Richfield parade. such great people watching!


  2. We just made back a little while ago from attending the PHC show’s celebration “40 Songs, 40 Years” at Macalester College. What a great line-up of talent, and a beautiful evening to sit outdoors and enjoy some terrific singing. Fun evening in the company of a lot of PHC fans.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds great. Any fireworks?

      I stayed home last night – with a fraidy-dog, it’s not as much fun to see fireworks up close when I know she’s home cowering. I live in SW so I get to hear both the Richfield and the Edina shows quite clearly.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Odes:
    Marie Curie
    Jane Addams
    Elizabeth Cady Stanton
    Frederick Douglass
    Rosaline Franklin
    Sally Ride
    Abigail Adams
    Eleanor Roosevelt
    Bette Nesmith
    Ben Franklin

    oh, and my favorite… Art Fry


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