Monday, May 17, 2010

Washington DC, Day 3

When I was a little girl, I always wanted to have a picnic in the cemetery...and my favorite color was black...other than that, I was perfectly normal. Right, Mom? Anyway, at the time, I thought picnics would be great because the cemetery where I lived was shady and green and pretty. Over the years, I have come to appreciate the history and stories that accompany cemeteries.

As we approached Arlington National Cemetery, I felt very grateful and proud. Grateful to all of the people who have left this earth before me and paid the ultimate sacrifice for my freedom. I also was terribly proud to live in a country that recognizes that fact. As it turns out, I did not know a lot about the history of this place. JD explained that this was not originally
intended to be a cemetery.

It seems that the house was built by George Washington's grandson and upon his death was passed down to his daughter. Her husband was Robert E. Lee.
The plot thickens and you can read all about it here
JD told us that his nephew Skippy, as well as his own parents are buried here. As we walked through the cemetery, visiting the Kennedy graves ,

on our way to see the Changing of the Guard. I was very proud of our group. The kids were all very respectful and "got it".

We then sat in the Memorial Amphitheater where JD told us, is a very moving way how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be. By the time he had described the entire journey of the casket, you guessed it, I was in tears again! Here is a summary I found of the story.

This afternoon, we visited Ford's Theater

and listened to a program given by a Park Ranger who was extremely nervous. He spoke veerrryyy sloooowwwwllly and enunciated every syllable precisely. I did feel sorry for him, though, because looking around, many people were asleep. How disconcerting for him.! We did
learn a lot, though

The only portion of the theater that is original is the front facade.
The inside is a replica of what it looked like in 1865,
and is again a working theater.
It was a bit distracting to see the "Little Shop of Horrors" on the stage as a backdrop.

The afternoon was filled with a visit to our Nation's Capitol. We walked past the Supreme Court
before entering the Capitol itself. As with many places, we had to pass through security. We all had it down to a science at this point...cameras and cell phones in a tub, belts off, no joking or messing around. For those of you who don't know me, I do NOT like to be the center of attention AT ALL!!! My blood pressure is rising as I type this. I had passed through the metal detector with no beeping and was waiting patiently for my purse and tub to join me. My roomie (remember Rapunzel?) was having her purse searched and the cookie from lunch was confiscated. Actually, it was taken from the bag, along with her perfume and she was told to exit the building and throw them away. She was mortified. I felt so bad for her. When I looked back, MY purse had everything out and was on the counter. The very nice policeman had my granola bars and trail mix in his hand and asked "Who's bag is this?" " Mmmmine...sir," I stammered. He asked if I was diabetic and when I answered no, he told me to throw it all away outside. I did, passed our fearless leader who had also been stopped for a granola bar on my way back in and went through security again. Mind you, the security area is separated from the inside of the Capitol by a wall and doors made of glass. As I exited the security, I entered a room filled with our group who had been watching and waiting! I felt like a numbskull!
We did have a lovely tour of the building and have decided that I apparently have a thing for ceilings! This one is gorgeous! It depicts George Washington ascending into Heaven.

This is Clio, the Muse of History who is riding the Chariot of Time and recording events in the Statuary Hall (which was used as the House of Representatives for more that 50 years). The wheel of the chariot contains the chamber clock. Clever, huh?

This originally stood above the Speaker's desk in the same room. An American eagle stands to Lady Liberty's right, and the scroll in her right hand is the Constitution of the United States. To her left a serpent, which is the symbol of wisdom, is entwined around a section of a column.
After the guided tour of the Capitol, we were fortunate enough to sit in the gallery of the current House of Representatives. Our local Congressman has arranged it for us and it was quite interesting.
We then met on the Capitol steps where our Congressman joined us for a photo. He was able to stay for a bit and answered questions from the kids. He is a local man who is working very hard for our area. It was kind of him and it put a human face to our government for many of the kids.

It was a day we will never forget!

Day 1
Day 2
Day 4
Ellis Island

1 comment:

Twisted Fencepost said...

From the pictures, it is such a beautiful place. I'd love to go there some day.