A Divided America Agrees on One Thing: The Eclipse Was Awesome

Aidan Hernandez lay on the sidewalk wearing his eclipse glasses and staring up. The day was cloudy in Eagle Pass, Texas, and for a while he was silent. Then the clouds parted and the sun appeared, obscured by the moon.

“There it is! There it is!” said Aidan, 7, alerting everyone that the total eclipse was visible. “Now it’s gone.”

Eagle Pass, a border town facing Mexico across the green valley of the Rio Grande, was the first American city on the path of totality. The eclipse also passed over Houlton, Maine, a small town pressed between rolling potato fields and the international border with Canada.

In between, darkness raced across 2,500 miles of the United States. People gathered in the wide streets of Texas to watch. They fell silent on a soccer field in Arkansas, donned dark glasses at a baseball stadium in Cleveland, scribbled prayers on scraps of paper and burned them in drums beneath the old empty grain silos of Buffalo.

For this moment, a wide swath of this country did the same thing, together, happily and in wonder. Our world of divisions and distractions — of TikTok and politics and disasters — fell away, leaving us quiet with our breath held in awe.

At the Indianapolis Zoo, Ryan and Kim Whallen explained to their daughter about how the eclipse affects shadows.Credit…Maansi Srivastava/The New York Times
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