The Capital

The Capital

I made it, no plane crash. I hate flying, so this was a big deal for me, but Oh, so worth it. Washington is fantastic, awesome, extraordinary. When I win the lottery I am so moving here. Plus, as a bonus, the DC United team was on the flight.


I walked from the hotel at 15th and Rhode Island down to the Mall Thursday morning. I made my way past the White House

me and the white house

and walked down the Mall past various memorials and the Washington Monument to The Wall. The memorial was emotionally overpowering. I stood there for awhile amid the crush of tourists and watched several groups find the names of loved ones on the Wall. People slowed to run their fingers over the names of the honored dead. My heart stops when I think of the over 2500 names that will someday be engraved on some future memorial to those killed in the War on Terror.
Next I took in the Lincoln Memorial. There were people from all over the world visiting this American version of a Greek temple, judging by the variety of languages I heard. All had come to pay homage to the great man who strove to

finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

By this time I had walked a couple miles and was tired and hot, so I caught a tourmobile to make the trip across the Potomac on the Memorial Bridge.


Arlington National Cemetery is enormous, and as overwhelmingly emotional as The Wall. Headstones march across the vast expanse of Lee's former plantation, up and down across the hills, like a ghostly army lying in wait for the signal to rise up and fight again.
The first tour stop was the Kennedy Memorial and the Eternal Flame. The approach is big and marble, full of majesty befitting a president such as JFK, but the site itself is underwhelming. Four plain graves under plain flat markers, surrounded by plain stones with grass growing in-between. A short distance away is Bobby Kennedy's grave - a simple white wooden cross. If you look up from the marker you can see Lee's house at the top of the hill.
The bus' next stop was the Tomb of the Unknown, and I can't think of any place in my 50 years that's had more impact on me. I watched the Changing of the Guards and ran out of film. As I was about to leave I heard a Park Service policeman say that they were having a wreath-laying ceremony at 3. It was about 1:30, which gave me a little time to see Arlington House, Robert E. Lee's home until the Civil War.


I took the bus down to the Visitor’s Center, bought film, and hiked the ¾ mile uphill to the Tomb as the tour buses weren’t running because of security for the ceremony. Along the road around the hilltop soldiers in dress blues stood watch every 20 yards. The viewing area at the Tomb was packed, but I managed to find a good spot to take some pictures. (I’ll post them at my website when they’re developed.) We had to wait awhile, but the President of Georgia (I think) and an American general laid a wreath at the Tomb, and I got my picture taken afterwards with the Navy portion of the color guard.


I caught a bus back to the White House, and then walked back to the hotel. All told, about 5 miles, and all uphill.

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