I’m finally getting around to doing all the traveling normal people do when they’re young, now that I’m in my 60s…and I’m loving it. I finally got to Washington D.C. and left with a serious appreciation for our country and the sacrifices of those who helped build it and those who fought and died to keep it free.
I went with Carolyn, who can arrange a tour of anything. We’ll probably be walking through your back yard with a tour guide on a microphone next. We saw the monuments at night, the Capitol, the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, and Arlington National Cemetery. And we were only there for two and a half days. You could spend weeks in D.C. and not see everything.
The Library of Congress was positively gorgeous. With mosaics on the floor and ceilings, it outdid many of the cathedrals I saw in Italy. And to find myself standing next to Thomas Jefferson’s actual books was pretty remarkable. That man did a ton of reading!
The Lincoln memorial was quietly powerful, probably a lot like the man. Seeing Lincoln seated there at night, as if he’s watching over the country leaves you awestruck. How sad that the dedication of that memorial in 1922 was a segregated affair.
It was also eye-opening to know that The Capitol, The White House, George Washington’s Mount Vernon, and James Madison’s Montpelier were built by slave labor. An article in Reuters called, Built by my Family, America’s Grand Buildings Constructed by Slaves, gives more details on that.
And the Martin Luther King Memorial is absolutely breathtaking. His words, “With this faith, we will be able to hew out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope,” stay with you as you turn the corner to see his image carved out of massive stone.
But the World War II Memorial touched me for personal reasons. Seeing it conjured up images of my father in his Army uniform.
He was born today, October 24th, in 1915, one of the greatest generation. We lost 416,800 soldiers in that war. I know my dad remembered two of them very well because they offered to take his place on a dangerous mission called Task Force Baum and never came back. You can read about it on my blog, Thanking a Couple of Soldiers for Letting My Father Live.
He was on a ship, bound for Japan when the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in early August They turned the ships around and he returned safely home. The war finally ended on September 2, 1945. It’s sad so much life has to be lost before people come to their senses.
We all get pretty jaded about our government, and rightfully so because it seems that representatives think their job is to keep us bickering and divided instead of representing us, compromising, and trying to make this country better. None of us are perfect and maybe the sad truth is our representatives actually do represent us, in which case, we better straighten up and figure out how to talk to each other with civility again.
But I saw people from other countries on our tours, German, Italian, French, and Indian to name a few, so our country, hopefully, still represents a place where justice eventually wins even if we seem to take one step forward and two steps back.