Washington D.C., a humbling experience filled with mixed emotions

Visiting Washington D. C. for the first time at 63 years of age was an emotional experience, despite wishing there was a different POTUS!  Sorry; this is not meant to be a political post!

We stayed at Cherry Hill Park, the closest campground to D.C. for a week.  This is an expensive park, but considering the location and amenities, it’s worth every penny.  It has 2  swimming pools, splash pad, mini golf, cafe, laundry facilities,  tractor rides, camp store, and even dog walking services.

Probably the best convenience is the on-site Metro Bus depot that takes you to the Metro train station.  The DC Metro is one of the cleanest, safest transit systems in the U. S., much cleaner than the NYC subway.  Once you learn the train lines, we found it very easy to navigate.   When you reach National Mall, you can hop on the Circulator Bus for an inexpensive way to reach the monuments and museums.   We didn’t realize this on our first day and ended up walking over 9 miles.  Ok for Jeff and I, but poor Rick!  It was a little too much for him and needed the next day to rest.  Bad Sister!

 

Day 1:  A Monumental Experience

Washington Monument and Reflecting Pool

  all I kept thinking of was Forest Gump!

The Washington Monument built to commemorate George Washington is made of marble, granite, and blue stone gneiss, and is the tallest stone structure in the world.  Construction began in 1848, but it was not completed until 1885 due to a lack of funds and the Civil War.  It officially opened October  9, 1888.

Lincoln Memorial

  • It took more than 50 years to get a memorial for Lincoln built and opened to the public.
  • It includes 39 columns of Colorado marble, one column represents a state in the union at the time of Lincoln’s death in 1865.
  • There are 87 steps from the Reflecting pool to Lincoln’s statue in side the Memorial.  The number 87 is for ‘four scores and 7’ per what Lincoln said in his famous Gettysburg Address.
  • Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was delivered on the steps of the Memorial August 28, 1963.
  • Observers who are literate in American Sign Language have taken note of the positioning of the sculpted fingers, recognizing in their arrangement the signification of the letters A and L.  Lincoln was particularly invested in the cause of furthering the study of sign language, he authorized the creation and signed the Charter of Gallaudet University, the school for the deaf whose founder French had also sculpted.  The National Park service has dismissed this as an urban legend.
  • Rick’s favorite memorial!

National World War ll Memorial

The World War II Memorial creation was authorized be President Bill Clinton in 1993 and constructed between 2001 and 2004.  It was dedicated to the hundreds of millions of people who served, the hundreds of thousands of people who died and also those who helped support soldiers in battle.

All 48 states, 7 federal territories and District of Columbia are represented on the memorial with its own granite pillar and wreath.  A wall of 4,048 gold stars, each one represents 100 American military deaths.  That is more than 400.000 soldiers.

Korean War Memorial

This Memorial had special meaning for Rick and I since our father fought in the Korean War.  He never mentioned his experience, however years after our mother passed, I found a newspaper article about his experience during the Navy Battle of Casablanca.  He was part of an invasion task force of 102 American ships carrying 35,000 soldiers who approached the coast of Morocco undetected.  I would have liked to have had an adult conservation with him about it, but never got the chance.  He survived the Korean War, but was killed in a car accident in 1969 at the age of 42.  I was just 15.  Perhaps some memories are best left alone.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

This also stirred up emotions.  In our small town of 1200 people, we lost 4 young men to the Vietnam War.  Considering graduating classes typically were less than 60 students, 4 was a high number.

The Memorial was dedicated on November 13, 1982 and honors the men and women who answered the call to service during the most divisive war in the U.S. history.  More than 58,000 names of soldiers who gave their lives or are missing are inscribed on the black granite wall.

The staff are very helpful in locating the names of your loved ones and making an etching.

Jefferson Memorial

DSCN0195

Martin Luther King Memorial

 

Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial

 

Arlington Cemetery: a somber sight

The thousands of white grave markers against the green grass makes a dramatic visual and visceral impact.

 

Visiting all the memorials brought up memories of my childhood.  Growing up in the 60’s wasn’t as idyllic some would think.  It was often a confusing time of social unrest.  We may not have had the school shootings that students of today face, but there were race riots and Vietnam War protests, sometimes ending in violence (Kent State).  I remember the assassinations of John F Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy.  Young men were either drafted or enlisted.  Some chose to flee the country to Canada.  Those who were fortunate to survive, returned home to a nation of hostility.  There were no “Thank yous” or “Welcome home”.  They were met with hate filled protesters, screaming obscenities, calling them baby killers, even spitting on them.  Many could not bear the hurt and humiliation and would end up having problems with addiction to cope or even committing suicide.

Visiting these Monuments and Memorials is a moving experience.  They link the past to the present and enable people to remember and respect the sacrifice of those who fought for our freedom.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.  George Santayana

Up next…museums

6 thoughts on “Washington D.C., a humbling experience filled with mixed emotions”

  1. Great post, last time we were there was 2009, sure wish we knew where our pictures of then went, oh well next year we’ll do a redo. My senior high school trip was to DC, we got to climb the Washington Monument in those days.

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  2. I love touring the DC memorials. We stayed in Silver Springs, MD last time and took the Metro in. More comfortable and economical than staying in the city itself. Looks like you guys hit a few more than we were able to in one day. Will have to go back, but would prefer to wait until there is a different Potus in residence, LOL.

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  3. Wow! You guys put on some serious miles! I know how far those memorials are from one another and that is no joke. My feet hurt just thinking about it. I agree though, those monuments are certainly something special. While I don’t miss living in DC, I did always love visiting the mall. It is a very special place commemorating so many incredible people and events. You captured all of that so well here. Glad you enjoyed it.

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