Sunday, May 27, 2007

A weekend of rememberance...

Yesterday and today were days where "FREEDOM IS NOT FREE" was obviously evident.

Yesterday was a day where half of it was spent mainly in silence. We had an opportunity to see one of THE most amazing museums in the country. We spent most of the day at the Holocaust Museum, and silence was really the only way to be able to absorb everything it has to offer and to pay it the respect it deserves. There really is very little I can say about the number of hours that we spent in this “time capsule”. However, some of the words that came to my mind as I was trying to absorb the vastness of this part of our world's history were horrific, incomprehensible, perverse, and barbaric. Above is the only photo I took in the museum. There are some areas in the museum that cannot be photographed, but several areas that do allow photography. I felt that I could best remember my time yesterday by this single quote.

We decided to have a relatively quiet night that was spent reflecting on more of the people who gave their lives. We toured the monuments at night, which I think, make them even more poignant. We have not seen a building that we haven’t thought was beautiful or breathtaking, but to see them at night gives one an opportunity to see their many attributes. We wanted to view the Vietnam Wall during the weekend (or at least at the beginning of it) because we knew there were going to be treasured items that were left there for the many Americans who gave their lives. One such item, that was heartbreaking and made me pull out a tissue again, was a frame with some information about a woman who just passed away a few weeks ago. Along with her death notice there was a small handwritten note that read "Your ma is finally with you. She wanted you to have your Purple Heart". The Purple Heart was actually left at the base of the wall. I overheard one of the vets discussing what is done with all the momentos left. Evidentally, everything (except for fresh flowers, I would imagine) is taken to the Smithsonian. It's comforting to know that treasures such as this are not carlessly discarded or ignored.

As you can imagine the Lincoln Monument is breathtaking at night. We didn't spend too much time there since we were just there a couple days ago. The Korean Monument was interesting for us, as a family. My father-in-law who passed away last year was a veteran of that war. The statues of the soldiers "on the battlefield" are hauntingly realistic! The WWII Monument is what I was really looking forward to seeing at night.

The site is wonderful during the day, but at night-well, there is just something magical about it. Although we haven't actually visited it, we were able to see the Jefferson Memorial from a distance. It almost glows at night!

In continuing with the theme of Memorial Day weekend and giving thanks to those who have served our country, we wanted to show our respects at Arlington Cemetery. We tried to spend the morning there, however because of Rolling Thunder being in town (thousands of bikers-many of whom are veterans) several of the exits were closed. We decided to move onto the Smithsonian American History/Natural History museum, however it is closed for renovation until the summer of ’08. After we dealt with the frustration of the morning, we decided to view the Smithsonian’s Portrait Gallery. WOW-this was my type of museum!
To see some of these paintings that are hundreds of years old was chilling. One of my favorite things of the day was this sculpture by Chauncey Bradley Ives. It looked like a drape had been put over the statue; it was hard to believe it was all stone.
It was fun to see the original painting of Juliet Gordon Lowe on exhibit. For those of you who don't know who she is, Juliet was the founder of the Girl Scouts. Since Ali was a Girl Scout for around 10 years and received her Gold Award (and is now a lifetime member), we thought it only fitting that I take her photo by the portrait (Jodi, this one's for you).

About 2:00 we all started getting very hungry, so we pulled out our trusty tour book and selected something quick and easy.
If you ever go to DC you MUST go to Ben's Chili Bowl--it is "out of this world fabulous!!!" Ali, who NEVER eats hotdogs, had a turkey dog, as did I. It was covered in vegetarian chili and it was incredible! There is so much history involved in this little diner (and way too much to post here), so go check out their website... (We knew the restaurant couldn't be all bad because the owner's last name is Ali:) ) Two of our favorite places to eat since we've been here (Ben's and Busboys and Poets) have been in a, shall we say, less than desirable part of town. It just goes to show you that "You can't judge a book by its cover".

After the freeway exits opened up, we were finally able to spend an hour at Arlington this afternoon.
To remember that each of the headstones was for a soldier was quite humbling. We didn’t have an opportunity to stay as long as we wanted, or to see as much as we wanted, but the time we spent there was moving. We headed back to the house for dinner. The girls cooked again and we were all excited to be able to try out Tom's new barbeque that he and Marybeth bought today. Louie enjoyed showing Tom how to use his new "appliance" and we all had a delicious meal (I hope Tom and Marybeth can get along okay next week without having the girls around to cook:0) )

Louie heads back home tomorrow, but before he leaves we plan on spending the day at Mt. Vernon. There is going to be so much going on at the memorials and at the capitol building that we’re hoping we can avoid some of the crowds by visiting Washington’s home.
Hopefully I'll have a chance to post something tomorrow night. If not, on Tuesday. Check back soon...especially the little groupies, Sandy and Emily!!:)

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