Thursday, October 31, 2013

DC day 2

The next morning we decided against the 0600 wake up and slept in an extra hour or so.  We had also decided, after a long and crowded ride on the train, to just drive into DC and park.  The multiple wrecks on I-95 though, got us back on the train. 

This time we got off at a different stop...

This is someplace I have wanted to visit for a long time.  There is so much going on here it is really hard to take in all at once.  We took a few minutes to explain to the kids what this place was and that it wasn't a good place for running around and screeching like the wild monkeys they are.  Somehow it seemed to take and they were really good kids for the whole time. 

One of the big draws for me was the Lee-Custis house, officially it is the Arlington House.  But on the way up we had a few things worth seeing. 

The first of many Medal of Honor awardees. 

With the Arlington House in the background.

The Eternal Flame was actually undergoing repairs.  They had a temporary one going off to the side.
Bobby Kennedy, probably the best of them all. 

The first of three panels with transcriptions of Bobby's speeches. 
Aside from the poignant and notable graves it is just a beautiful setting worthy of a much better photographer. 

Eventually we made it up the main hill to the Arlington House.  This house was the reason that Arlington National Cemetery was placed here.  The house belonged to Mary Custis, a descendant of George Washington.  She married an up and coming officer in the U.S. Army by the name of Robert E. Lee.  When the civil war broke out Lee was offered command of the Army of the Potomac for the Union side.  He reportedly paced about his house for three days considering what to do.  On the night before he had to have a decision, he reportedly sent his wife and daughters downstairs where they sat all night listening to him pace about the bedroom overhead.  In the end he felt more loyalty to his state of Virginia than to the country and resigned his commission to join the confederacy.  It is largely believed that it was his brilliance that gave the outmanned and outgunned Confederacy any chance at all.  One has to wonder what the war would have been like had Lee sided with the Union.  

So, during the war, a need arose with the mounting casualties, for a new national cemetery to bury the dead.  After much deliberation, the government essentially took the Custis-Lee property and made it into a cemetery so that Lee could never again reside there as it would be hallowed ground.  

Right outside the front door is the grave of the designer of D.C. 

What is the view from the steps of the Lee house?  The Lincoln Memorial of course. 

Mr and Mrs Lee were married under the middle arch. 
This is the room where Lee paced all night deliberating. 

What game is set up in the back room of a famous general?  Chess, of course. 

After touring the house, we had one more stop to make before we could leave.  On the way over though, we stumbled upon this. 
Surrounded by hedges, we ducked under and walked in.

Which was a fitting prelude to the next stop.  Again, we had a little talk with the boys prior to going up to watch and they seemed to get the gravity of it if not the meaning.  

You can see the wear marks on the concrete from the changing of the guard ceremonies.

Some Marines came by to pay their respects.
We arrived in time to see the changing of the guard.

We made our way out to the street.  Michael and Max had a ton of questions about what they had seen and why anyone would bother to guard a tomb anyway.  I did my best to explain things as I understand them.  It was difficult because I think everyone sees something like this through such a personal lens that there is so much more meaning than I can convey.  I did my best though. 

Then we walked across the bridge to the Lincoln Memorial. 

Along the way, there are some pretty cool statues.

The Hiker

DC after the zombie apocalypse. 

Title Sacrifice.  Presented to the US by the government of Italy.  A matched one was behind us.

We were tired from walking.  But we were finally there.  This was another of those places that I have always wanted to go and I think Nana did too. 

Nana said, "Take one from right here."  Good eye Nana.
We read the speeches on the wall, we wandered around like the tourists we were and we soaked in some more solemn gravitas.  Then we walked down the steps and started walking toward the White House. 

Speaking of solemn gravitas.  Along the way on that end of the mall...

On to the White House!

And that was as close as we got.  By this time everyone was starving and cranky again and we were only a block or two from the Ronald Reagan building where we knew of a delightful little food court.  So we packed it in to rest our weary legs and refuel.  While we finished our food, we planned the next move.  It was almost 4pm.  There wasn't just a ton of time left and some of that would be used to walk wherever we were going.  Oh yeah, and we weren't really enjoying all that walking too much either.  But, it is bucket list time, so...

'Of course we went.  We had to.  By the time we got there, there was only and hour left before closing.  So we skimmed and hit the high points.  I figure we might make it here again someday.  I hope we do, there is so much still to see. 

Exhausted, we made our way back to the train station.  We were done with DC for a little while. IT was back home for a day of rest before heading back to work for four days and Nana had to go back to the real world.  It was a real neat trip with some things that will stick with me for a long time. 

And here are a couple of pictures that I liked that didn't seem to fit in the narrative. 

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