I'll go ahead and post this rough recap of our first day in DC and go back and add some photos and edit it later.
We woke up and bolted out of here at 7:45 am, rushing to the Metro to try to get some of the tickets to the top of the Washington Monument that they start giving away at 8:30am. Race for the Cure "runners" on the Metro. Line at the Monument. I called my folks to say Hi but wasn't up for talking much. It was still before 6am in California. I was hot the weather was muggy and I hadn't had breakfast of any caffeine. We got the last 3 tickets for the last slot of the day. What we wanted as we had noon and 7pm apts.
Walked to Jefferson National Memorial. Beautiful. Impressive. Had never seen up close. Liked the words inside. A kid from Wisconsin asked Sam where he was from. When he said, San Francisco, they asked, "You've been on the Golden Gate Bridge?" When he answered, "Yes," he was congratulated. Another kid from the group said, "We should take a picture w/this kid." They did. Outside, a small high school (or middle school) band was playing the Star Spangled Banner and other patriotic songs. Brought back memories.
Walked past where the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, where they print the paper money. (Which isn't actually made of paper but fiber like cotton per our tour guide.)
Had some breakfast, including a knish, in the Holocaust Museum Cafe to cool-off, relax and refuel. The ladies made a delicious iced vanilla coffee drink for me. The caffeine helped.
Since we still had some time before our tour of the Holocaust Museum, we decided to go check out the WWII Memorial. My mom had mentioned that morning that it was one of the newer memorials and I didn't think I'd seen it before.
Hot walk to it. Loved the Bronze story panels on the walkway to and from the fountain.
Then, walked around the Washington Monument (instead of cutting across the park) to stay in the shade of the trees on the periphery. Saw the White House in the distance.
Returned to the Holocaust Museum. Each of us picked out an ID card, each with information about the experience of a Jewish person during the Holocaust. Two of our three people died which seems to be representative of what happened to the millions of people were wrongly persecuted, imprisoned, tortured and murdered during that time.
Yesterday, seemed to be the first in-depth telling of the history Sam had experienced. I was proud of his seriousness and willingness to watch, listen and learn. Walking through Daniel's Story, a Child's Story of the Holocaust, helped personalize the information and bring the experience to life for us. It was a lot to absorb but incredibly important.
We ended up in the cafe of the Museum of Natural History for lunch. We'd thought about eating on the grounds of the Washington Monument but it really felt like we were in a sauna so we opted for another hour of air conditioning. I was happy to be able to have an egg plant sandwich and a salad (even if they were just OK). Sam shared his fries and Cam and I split a chocolate bar too.
Next was the Washington Monument. Before arriving in DC, I'd been saying that I'd wanted to go to the top of it my whole life. Standing at the base of it that morning, I remembered that I had been able to go to the top of it when I was here w/my 6th grade class, when I was about a year older than Sam. What I'd remembered was that I hadn't been able to go to the top the last time I was here, when Sam was three. This time, we had tickets.
Thankfully, the bench for people with tickets for the 4:30pm tour was in the shadow of the monument. I reminisced with Sam about how we liked to go to the top of the Arch when we lived in St. Louis. We also talked about how we had gone to the top of the John Hancock Building and the Sears Tower in Chicago. The view from the top of the 555 Washington monument is impressive on each of the four sides.
From there, we took a walk along a park, past the White House, to the National Archives building. We talked about how this was the place where Nicholas Cage stole the Declaration of Independence in that National Treasure movie. We stood in line to get inside the building then stood in line to get to see the documents. It was memorable to be that close to the Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence.
Afterwards, we walked towards the capitol, along another park and arrived at Union Station. In a bit, we'd catch a trolley that would take us on the night tour of the monuments. In the meantime, we enjoyed some well-deserved Ben & Jerry's ice cream. Of course, the child opted for a fruit smoothie. My Chunky Monkey (banana ice cream w/walnuts and chocolate chunks) in a waffle cone was quite enjoyable.
Jazzy Jan was our drive and tour guide on the trolley. She was informative, humorous and fun. She kept us moving but made sure we had just enough time at each stop. The first stop was at the Franklin Delanor Roosevelt Memorial. I hadn't been to the FDR memorial before. His quotes about social responsibility are inspiring to me. The sunset was lovely too.
Our next stop was near the Lincoln Memorial. We walked over the the Vietnam National Memorial first. Explaining to Sam that each name, which took up such a tiny bit of space, represented a life made the magnitude of the wall's size significant. I told him about how I'd been there with my family when I was about his age. There is a photo of my brother standing next to my dad at the wall. I remember my dad being moved when he found the names of men he knew on the wall.
After the Vietnam War Memorial, we walked up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to go meet Abe. He is impressive. We read the Gettysburg Address and then sat on the steps of the monument, looking out on the Reflecting Pool, the WWII Memorial, the Washington Monument and the Capitol in the distance.
There was a storm brewing in the area and we enjoyed seeing streaks of lightning in the distance. Sometimes, the lightning would light up the clouds.
Before returning to the trolley, we walked through the Korean War Memorial. The faces of the men looking out at us were captivating.
Our final stop on the trolley was the Iwo jima Memorial. We learned that the statue, of the men raising a flag on the top of the island's highest point, is the largest bronze sculpture in the world.
We learned other interesting pieces of information, as it started to rain and we rode the trolley back to Union Station. From there, we took the Metro back to the stop closest to our hotel and went back to the room to rest and relax.
After a shower, I watched Hilary Clinton calling her supporters to help elect Barack Obama the next president of the United States. It was a day full of patriotic experiences.
Cam's 91-year-old grandmother and his dad's sister are on their way to meet us. I'm glad I will get to see them for a few minutes before I head off to my conference. Have a great day.