Tag Archive | Veteran’s Day

Thank You for Your Service

A year ago today, I was at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. visiting the memorials.  It was a cold, sunny day and it was a humbling experience to visit the World War II Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial.  There was a ceremony honoring veterans at the Vietnam Memorial, and there were many Vietnam Vets in attendance.

To all of our Veterans, thank you.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863

Vet’s Day Weekend 2017: The National Mall

Day 4, Saturday, November 11, 2017

Today was the day that I was going to get to go to Washington D.C.!  I have long wanted to go, and spend about 2-3 weeks there, touring the many monuments and museums on the mall.  A couple of days in D.C. was going to have to suffice on this trip, but I certainly made good use of my time!  Not only that though; I got to go on Veteran’s Day!

I grabbed a yogurt and granola cup at the hotel to eat on the subway into town.  I made my way the few blocks to the Metro station and found my way to the Mall.  The subway station pops up right in the middle of the Mall – so cool!  And cold – it was freaking cold that day, and sadly, I had forgotten to bring a hat or a scarf with me.  I did have some gloves though.  It had been so much warmer the previous day!

I talked to the lady at the Visitor’s booth, and she explained where I could find my National Parks Passport stamps for the various monuments, and off I went.  I stopped first at the Washington Monument – it is so tall!  It is really neat, with its simple clean lines.  Unfortunately, it is closed for renovations until 2019, so you can’t go inside.

Then I wandered down to the World War II Memorial – the memorial is beautiful and humbling.  It is divided into two sections – Atlantic and Pacific – and has pillars for each State.  The fountain is gorgeous, as well as the field of stars.  There are 4,048 stars on the wall here – each star represents 100 American service personnel who died or remain missing – 405,399 in all.  That is a sobering statistic.  I spent some time taking it all in.

I continued on my way down to the Lincoln Memorial, past the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.  The area is very large – I don’t know if I had ever seen it not completely packed with people; usually when the Washington Mall is on the news on the West Coast, it is because there was a big event there.  It was interesting to see.

The Lincoln Memorial

I had a mission at the Lincoln Memorial, besides just seeing the memorial.  I have been a long-time admirer of Abraham Lincoln, and the opportunity to stand there before his likeness, and read the words from his Gettysburg Address and his second inaugural address were all amazing, but there was something else too.

There was something I wanted to see for myself.  A trivia thing…  Did you know that in the chiseled marble of the second inaugural address there is a mistake chiseled in?  Yea.  Some poor worker accidentally chiseled an E that should have been an F.  Instead of starting that whole panel over again, they didn’t outline the bottom leg of the E in the black paint, so it is hard to notice that it isn’t the correct letter – unless of course, you are looking for it.  It was so much fun to find it!  It is completely a nerd thing; right up my alley.

It was so humbling to stand in front of Lincoln’s huge marble statue and take it all in.

Heading back outside, I stood on the steps looking towards the Washington Monument.  These are the steps where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his I Have A Dream speech.  Hearing that speech, seeing Abraham Lincoln’s marble form towering in the background, would have been an amazing experience.

As I was coming down the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, there was a Peruvian dance troupe just starting to perform a traditional dance.  I don’t know the significance of the man in the half-woman/half-military man costume, so if you do, please let me know.  It was amazing seeing these women dance on top of the boards!  The dance was very beautiful, and I watched for several minutes.

There was also a group of Vietnam Vets gathered on the steps for a ceremony – the 5th Battalion of the 7th Cavalry.  Since it was Veteran’s Day, there was a ceremony taking place at the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, and they were there with their families for a reunion.  I talked to a gentleman about his service for a few minutes and thanked him.   At the memorial itself, vets and their families were lining up and getting seated.  I watched for a little while, humbled to be in the presence of these brave heroes.

The 5th Battalion of the 7th Cavalry – Heroes

I did get some photos at the edges, but the ceremony meant less access to the memorial than there would usually be.  And that’s ok – the 58,000 names on the Vietnam Veterans Wall mean something special to these men and women.  The Women’s Vietnam Memorial is nearby, and it was neat to see.  I didn’t realize that there was a memorial dedicated to the women who supported the troops in the war zone.

A few of the 58,000 names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial


Walking back down to the Washington Memorial, I checked out a festival that was on the Mall called Catharsis on the Mall; its purpose was to celebrate and promote the empowerment of women.  There were lots of helmets you could wear, and a women’s march for equality, which was not going on while I was there.  When I passed by, there was music and the opportunity to dance on top of a bus that was decorated like a dragon.  It was cool to see, but I’m not really a dancing on top of a dragon bus type – maybe I should be.  The festival also included a women’s march, which was going to be later in the day.

Golden Dragon Dancing Bus

I had already seen so much, and I had barely scratched the surface of the Mall!


Vet’s Day Weekend 2017: Naval Museum

Day 2, Thursday, November 9, 2017

Thursday morning, I went over to Chick and Ruth’s Delly (yes, I spelled that the way they do) for breakfast.  I learned what scrapple is, and honestly it didn’t sound very appealing…  In case you don’t know, it is a Pennsylvania Dutch creation; a mush of pork scraps and other trimmings combined with cornmeal, wheat flour and spices.  It is formed into a loaf, then sliced and fried.  So, I guess it is kind of like spam, which when I finally did try, I liked, so maybe I should have tried scrapple, but I didn’t…  I did have a delicious breakfast of eggs and sausage (without scrapple) and a fabulous mimosa for $2.99.

If you visit Chick and Ruth’s, you will undoubtedly notice that that there are bagels hanging from the ceiling… Why?  Well, the answer isn’t nearly as intriguing or mysterious as you might think…  According to an explanation on the wall, in the 1960s, the lights were pulled on and off using strings – but sometimes the strings would get caught up in the lights or on the pipes.  They weighted the strings with the bagels.  Of course, after a while, they became known for it, then throw in a scavenger hunt and pretty soon, the bagels stayed (although if you look, you will notice they aren’t actually hanging from the lights anymore)…  So there you have it…

The Delly – ignore the guy picking his teeth…

After breakfast, I wandered over to the Naval Academy to see the museum on the grounds.  This is a fascinating museum!

The U.S. Naval Academy Museum

The top floor of the museum had a whole bunch of models of historic ships, going back about 400 years.  These are beautiful models!

A model ship at the Naval Academy Museum


The stern of a model ship

The museum also has about two dozen models made almost entirely of bone.  These models were made by French POWs who were held in England during the Napoleonic Wars; they collected the bones from the meals that they ate as prisoners.  They vary in size, as well as the level of detail in each particular model – some are extremely elaborate!  They are really beautiful too.

The first floor of the museum gives a fairly complete history of the Navy.  There are exhibits on how the Navy was established, the activities and campaigns that Naval units have participated in, life in the service, and various significant figures in Naval history.  They have artifacts that range from class rings to sabers, historic flags, items possessed by Naval officers, and pieces of significant ships throughout history.  It is a really good museum, and I spent quite a while there taking it all in.

Naval Swords and Dirks


A stabilized Naval Banner from the 1700s

After the museum, I got a late lunch at a sushi restaurant and wandered around downtown a bit.  And I took a nap!

My sushi lunch!

That evening, I went to a play called 33 Variations, that was being put on by The Colonial Players, the local Annapolis community theater.  The play was about a woman who was researching Beethoven for a book.  The topic was the 33 variations that Beethoven wrote in response to Diabelli’s request to write a variation of his waltz.  Diabelli was a well-known composer and music publisher who sent a request to several Austrian composers, asking them to each to submit a variation on the waltz he had written, which he was going to compile into a book to publish.  In case you were wondering, this part is all true, historically…

The woman in the play examines the reasons why Beethoven wrote the variations, and the emotions they evoke.  She becomes obsessed with the project and begins frantically working on it, even as her body is shutting down due to the effects of ALS.  The play draws parallels between this woman’s frantic struggle to finish her life’s work in the face of her terminal illness, and Beethoven’s obsession with composing before total deafness takes his hearing.  The parallel theme in the play is the woman’s relationship with her daughter, with whom she has a strained relationship.  They both try to come to terms with their relationship as the woman’s death becomes more imminent and her body shuts down.

As with many community theaters, the set design was bare bones – they switched out the stage in the middle of the round theater several times.  They did a great job with it!  The play was very powerful and moving – the pianist evoked quite a bit of emotion with his playing of the variations throughout the play.  I certainly had tears in my eyes a couple of times.

The play wrapped up a little after 11 and I walked down to a pub that was still open for a late dinner/snack.  I had an appetizer of crab balls and a Tröeg’s Harvest Ale, a hoppy ale with hints of citrus; both were delicious!  I talked to the bartender a bit about the area, as well as Washington D.C.  It was a fantastic day!

Crab Balls and Beer – yum!