This day, a nation turns out for its own wake. The air is raw, but scrubbed by last night's rain. Sunday rises, red and protestant, over the Potomac. Light's paler synonyms scratch at the capital's monuments, edging the blocks of the Federal Triangle, turning sandstone.to marble, marble to granite, granite to slate, settling down on the Tidal Basin like water seeking its level. The palette of this dawn is pure Ashcan School. Early morning coats every cornice with magentas that deepen as the hours unfold. But memory will forever replay this day in black and white, the slow voice-over pan of Movietone.

Laborers drift across a Mall littered with scraps of funny papers scattering on the April wind. Sawhorses and police cones corral the lawless expanse of public space. Federal work teams-split by race-finish ratcheting together a grandstand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. A handful of organizers gazes over the reflecting pool, swapping bets about the size of the crowd that will turn …