Monday, April 11, 2016

Reflections from the East Coast

Washington Monument
I haven't written here for a few weeks.  During Spring Break, my wife and I went to Washington, DC for for 3+ days.  Though she's been to Europe 25+ times, she has never visited our nation's capital.  So, we hit the ground running, landing at Dulles International and heading straight to the National Mall.  First stop: The National Archives.  I felt like Nicholas Cage in the film National Treasure - the scene where he "touches' the Declaration of Independence.  Seeing a 240 year old document, as well as the US Constitution and Bill of Rights is something every American should experience.  Yep, I almost teared up.

Vietnam Wall
We then made sure we hit many of the monuments and memorials - starting with the Washington Monument, then the WW2 Memorial, Vietnam Wall, Lincoln Memorial, and Korean War Memorial.   It is truly hard, to put into words, the emotions that go through your mind when visiting these sites, especially the Vietnam Wall.

Hanging out with Thomas J
The next day, we went to Ford's Theatre, the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, and then had a tour of the US Capitol.  Pretty darn cool stuff.  Great stories.  That evening, we visited the Jefferson Memorial - had it all to ourselves, and then the Marines Memorial (Iwo Jima) within Arlington National Cemetery.

Marines Memorial
Arlington was our first stop Friday morning - we visited President Kennedy's grave (the eternal flame), Arlington House (once the home of General Robert E. Lee), and then experienced the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  
Friday afternoon was spent at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum - so hard to take in, but a place that EVERYBODY should see.  It really makes you stop and think - and makes you realize the evil humans are capable of; I have no idea how any Holocaust survivor could overcome going through that experience.  
Eisenhower Quote - Holocaust Museum

We wrapped up Friday by visiting the relatively new Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial and FDR Memorials.  Pretty cool stuff.  I don't think the MLK Memorial does MLK his justice - he and other Civil Rights leaders deserve more.  The FDR memorial was well done - broken into four sections; one for each of his terms.  Nice tribute to his far better half, Eleanor, who truly defined the role of First Lady of the United States.  
Mount Vernon

Saturday was our last day... we decided to hit Mount Vernon and Manassas Battlefield.  We never made it to Manassas.   It started snowing... and we went to Mount Vernon, the home and slave plantation of General (President) George Washington.  It was amazing.  We even took the "National Treasure" tour, learning that there aren't any underground tunnels (though the movie seemed to make them a piece of folklore.)  Learning about Washington, his family, his impact on our country, and even his moral dilemma over slavery was very powerful.

What a trip. So much to see in our country.  I know that I am a history geek and love history far more than the "Average Joe," but every American should visit these sites and learn the origins of our country - the good, the bad, the ugly.   

MLK Memorial
Arlington House (from Kennedy's Grave)

Lisa & I at Mount Vernon

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