..March 2008 The Woman outside the White House..
When I was attending university I used to photograph a woman who sat in front of the White House protesting the use of nuclear weapons. The last time I saw her was 11 years ago, 1997. She has been holding a 24 hour a day vigil on the street since 1980. Only leaving briefly to go to the bathroom, sleeping on 2 blankets, and a pillow on top of a large wooden mattress, no matter the elements.
I’ve seen her sitting in snow up to her waist and sweating in the oppressive August humidity. She out lasted 4 Presidents who slept about 100 yards away in the Lincoln Bedroom inside a mansion called the White House.
I’ve been carrying a business card she handed me the first time I met her. It was shoved into the corner of my camera bag for 11 years. I wonder if she’s still sits there? I can’t imagine being as devoted to give up my entire life for a cause. 1980 was 28 years ago. She has been sitting out there 3/4 of my life. In that time I’ve seen the birth of my sister, experienced my parents divorce, graduated from college, started my career, traveled around the world twice, and seen the birth of my niece.
I haven’t been to Washington, DC in many years. I wonder if she is still sitting in front of the White House? I wonder if she’s still alive? I thought about her while I was photographing Hibakusha in Nagasaki last fall. When I was sitting in my hotel room one block away from the epi-center, I thought of my friendship with her from 1995-1998. Is she still sitting out there?