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