Friday, May 13, 2011

More than monuments

After fighting traffic for what seemed like ages, we found our way to our DC hotel. Wow, what a treat!! We are living life well at the Mariott Bethesda! Soon after checking in, it was time to learn the metro. We took the shuttle to the nearby metro station, and the driver told us they would shuttle every 30 minutes until 11:00pm.

The escalator going into the subway was the longest one we had ever seen! We figured out tickets, bumbled our way through the electronic turnstile, and managed to figure out which train was heading into DC.

We exited at Union Station, had dinner in the food court, and then rushed to catch our train to the monument tour. Because we were pressed for time, we ordered milkshakes to go and went back below to the subway level. As we rode down the escalator, planning to savor our shakes as we toured the monuments, a lady rushed passed us and chided, "No food or drink on the metro!" Rats! We stood on the platform, furiously slurping milkshakes while waiting for the next train!

We chose a tour called "more than monuments" by a company named DC by Foot. It is a tip-based tour service, and I thought this would be a nice overview/ orientation to the area for our first evening. It turned out to be a great choice. We started out at the Washington monument. In the postcards, you don't ever see the scads of softball games and kickball games going on! I guess the city folks have to have a grassy area to play ball...

Will was fascinated by the color change in the stones. The project ran out of money and sat un-funded for years and years. When work resumed, they used the same stone from the same quarry, but the color was different.

After the Washington monument, we learned about the white house (from a distance). We did not get to see the Obamas out on their balcony, but we got to see the bushes! Hahahaha... I love cheesy tour guide jokes!!

Did you know that the white house is made of sandstone, and was not originally white? It was after the house was burned during the war of 1812 and charred that they decided to whitewash it!

At this point we also got to talk about e Jefferson memorial. Interestingly, it was built with Jefferson directly facing the white house, because he is known for his concerns about government exceeding the intended power and purpose. I am going to learn more about Thomas Jefferson this summer. I think we might have a lot in common.

Next was the WW2 memorial. This was my favorite, and I kept getting teared up. At this point, I was so incredibly thankful for our tour guide, Chris. I would never have gotten the full meaning and significance without his explanations.

There are two main towers on each side, and there are 4 eagles inside to represent the 4 branches of armed services. There are pillars for each state and territory, and each one has an oak wreath on one side and a wheat wreath on the other. The oak leaves symbolize... And the wheat symbolizes... The kids made it a point to locate Mississippi.

The monument is sunken below ground level, so as not to disturb the dialogue between the Lincoln memorial and the Washington monument. It uses water... There are fountains to create a visual effect and also to create a noise filter. There are also calm, reflective bodies of water for contemplation and reflection.
The picture below shows the gold stars which each represent 100 soldiers killed in the war. I am so thankful that both of my grandfathers fought and made it back home!

The most special part of the monument to me was a piece of graffiti left on the back side.

During the war, a man named kilroy had the job of counting rivets on ships. When he finished his count, he would write, "Kilroy was here." All over the world, sailors saw this signature and wondered, "Who in the world is Kilroy?" It eventually became a sort of joke among sailors, and was written on seized towns and goods across the world.

My grandfather enjoyed woodworking as a hobby. I have a stools, a key holder, and several other items made by him during his life. They all have one thing in common: a stamp on the underside or back. The stamp says "George was here," and there is a little picture just like the "graffiti" etched into the monument.

As the our guide recounted this story of Kilroy, memories of Pepa came flooding through my mind...almost simultaneously, I thought about Pepa's gifts of woodwprk and realized that there was a whole side of Pepa that I didn't know... And I wish I had found out about. Misty- eyed, we began our walk to the Vietnam memorial.

I don't know very much about the war in Vietnam, but the number of names on that wall was sobering.

I am not positive, but I think that Scott's dad might have been in Vietnam... And I feel horrible for not knowing! This statue is dedicated to those who survived Vietnam and made it home. They are surrounded by thorn bushes symbolizing the difficulties they faced upon returning.

Our final stop was the Lincoln Memorial. It was completely dark by this time... The monuments are beautiful lit up at night, but my pictures didn't turn out so well!

Hannah's favorite part was speculating about whether or not Robert E Lee's profile is in the back of Lincoln's head. (Facing his home at Arlington house)

Will was impressed by the height of the columns...

Afterwards, they sat on the steps and agreed that they had no choice but to steal the Declaration of Independence... (a little National Treasure joke!)

We finished up our time at the Lincoln memorial with a few silly pictures...

1 comment:

Sheri said...

I am teary eyed just reading your post. I will be a mess when I see the memorials for myself!