The Washington Monument was closed yesterday, but a steady stream of tourists and curiosity-seekers visited the windswept monument grounds where the talk of the day was Norman Mayer's solitary siege.
"I saw it all on TV and thought I'd like to go," said Terry Wheeler, a computer programmer from Atlanta who happened to be in town for a workshop Wednesday when Mayer threatened to blow up a truck filled with explosives near the monument in protest against nuclear arms proliferation.
Most of the tourists were asking to see where Mayer's truck, which actually contained no explosives, had been parked, and where Mayer was eventually killed by police, according to U.S. Park Police Officer Edward Cutsaw, who was stationed at the monument yesterday.
But there was not much to see. A sign out front said the monument was closed due to high winds, though Park Police said they were also concerned about lingering fumes from the tear gas they had fired into the monument Wednesday night. Aside from ruts in the grass made by Mayer's truck, which some tourists eagerly captured in snapshots, there was nothing to suggest the events of the day before, which had attracted throngs of police officers and reporters to the scene, capturing the nation's attention for 10 tense hours.
There were a few more police officers than usual, and there was a lot of talk and Monday-morning quarterbacking.
"It's tragic in a way. You can't predict what crazy people are going to do. It's just lucky nobody got hurt but him," said Frank Coniglio, a retired New York clothing manufacturer who now lives in Puerto Rico.
"I feel some distress over the fact that a man got killed, even though he did a stupid thing," said Kenric Charlton, a Canadian who was in town for a conference of the American Gas Association. "The contradiction also bothers me. Here he was suggesting he was going to do something that could kill people, and yet he said he was against nuclear arms because they kill people."
"I think, though, that the police force took the only course of action possible," said Gary Cain, here from Shreveport, La., for the same conference.
The Park Service said the monument should be open today. The monument is closed whenever the wind gusts to more than 25 miles and hour.