I have always wanted to go to D.C., so when we got the chance to visit family over Christmas, we jumped at the chance. The weather turned out to be fantastic with highs in the lower 50s, and only raining one day. We couldn’t have asked for a better time. These are pictures of most of the places we toured. Thanks for looking.
The first place was Arlington National Cemetery.
We also saw the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This vigil was established in 1921 and is maintained around the clock, in all kinds of weather. There are service men from WWI, WWII, Korean War, and the Vietnam War, although he was identified through DNA testing in 1998. The changing of the guard takes place every hour October through March 14, and ever half hour March 15 through September.
There is also President John F. Kennedy’s grave and the eternal flame.
We went through the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which was the hardest tour we did. We were handed random identification cards, depending on which gender we were, before we went through that told a bit about a person who was either a survivor or a victim of the war. It was really quite heartbreaking and a powerful experience.
We also went to the Washington National Cathedral. The building project began in 1893, with the first stone being laid in 1907. It was completed 83 years later in 1990. The earthquake this past year in D.C. did some damage to the spires, and they had a museum that explained how they would rebuild. Interesting fact we found out: President Woodrow Wilson is entombed here. We actually touched the stone marker before we realized what we were touching:-) They also had an observation deck on the 7th floor, which you can see the monuments and the National Mall. We couldn’t, of course, because that was the day it was raining.
We toured the State Department’s Diplomatic Reception Rooms. These rooms are housed in a modern building, but were transformed by an architect and made to look classical, down to the windows being redone to look antique. This is where the Secretary of State receives distinguished guests. This dining room, pictured without the tables, is the primary room to entertain.
On one day, we toured the monuments in the National Mall. Unfortunately, the Reflecting Pool was undergoing renovation, so there was no pool. Just a lot of pipes, and construction equipment. The rest of the monuments were very awe-inspiring to finally see. The first stop was the Lincoln Memorial. Construction began in 1914, and was the memorial was dedicated in 1922.
Next was the Vietnam War Memorial. The memorial has names of individuals that died in 1959 and it goes to the last one that died in 1975. What a powerful place that was. I did a pencil rubbing of a classmate of my mom’s and took it home to her, because it is important for us to remember.
Next up was the WWII memorial. The main water feature was shut off, because they were working on it, but this reflecting pool was quite powerful. It holds 4,048 gold stars, each one representing 100 American service personnel who died or remained missing in the war.
We walked to the Washington Monument in the freezing cold wind. We knew we couldn’t go up in it, since the earthquake had put a crack in the side, so we gazed up at it an moved on. It was too cold that day to do much else.
We took two of our nephews to the National Archives, and had to spend 30 minutes standing in line to get in. This was the only place where there was a line, so we counted ourselves lucky. We toured the Rotunda, which houses the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Because these documents are so old, and not written on archival paper 🙂 the rotunda is kept in low light, and there was no picture-taking. It was really quite beautiful in that building.
The last full day we were there, we drove out to the Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens. This was my most fun excursion on the trip, probably because of the living history we were experiencing. We toured his mansion, and got to go up to the third floor, just because they only have it open during the Christmas week. It has been restored to the 1799 inventory taken at the time of Washington’s death. Front side of the house:
We saw the Slave Memorial and Burial Ground, the Upper and Lower Gardens, numerous 18th century outbuildings, Washington’s and his wife, Martha, tombs, the Pioneer Farmer site with the 16 sided barn, the Potomac Waterfront and Wharf, and we took the Forest Trail.
We also saw a demonstration on how they made chocolate to use in baking and the creation of drinking chocolate that they would have with breakfast. It smelled delicious.
The last stop we made was to the Iwo Jima Memorial, which is actually called the United States Marine Corps War Memorial. This was the only one we toured at night, which I was originally disappointed about, but then we were so cold by the time we left this one, we decided it was best we did the others when it was sunny. We will have to visit again for night shots. It was quite impressive, however, at night.
That’s it. We took many more pictures, and had a lot of fun with the family, and also touring D.C. It is quite a feeling of solidarity, and patriotism to have been there and witnessed our nation’s history.