Terra Nomad

Every day is like survival. You're my lover, not my rival.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Southeast Road Trip Day 3

We took the Metro into the city, but we rode it one stop too far. We were trying to get to Union Station and assumed they would announce the stop or we'd see a big sign. We rode back one stop and got our tickets for Tourmobile, a hop-on hop-off narrated tour of Washington D.C. After leaving Union Station, we drove past the north side of the US Capitol (the side you see on the news), and then down the National Mall past the National Gallery of Art, the National Archives, the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of American History. Then came the memorials: the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial.

We knew it was supposed to rain the next day, so we decided to focus on outdoor things today, which meant we crossed the Potomac and went on the Arlington National Cemetery leg of the tour. I remembered going out there in 1992 when my marching band came to D.C. The first stop out in Arlington was the Eternal Flame over JFK's grave, which had changed since I first saw it to include Jackie, who died in 1994. Robert Kennedy's grave is next to theirs and our guide told us that his was the only wooden cross in the whole cemetery. We took the bus up to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and on the way we passed the grave site of the pilot of the plane that was hijacked and flown into the Pentagon on 9-11 as well as the headstones for lots of men lost at sea. They aren't buried there, but their headstones are close together on hillsides throughout Arlington. There are also several areas where there are clumps of unknown soldiers from wars before most soldiers wore dogtags. At the Tomb, we saw the changing of the guard and The Canadian Cross Of Sacrifice.

Next we headed back over the Potomac to visit the Lincoln Memorial as well as the Memorials for the Veterans of the Korean and Vietnam Wars. We climbed up the steps to the Lincoln Memorial and got lots of pictures both inside and out. Adjacent is The Korean War Veterans Memorial, which was dedicated in 1995 so I had not seen it yet. It's nineteen soldiers walking through a rice paddy and a granite wall that faces them with pictures of soldiers in it. The wall is shiny, so the statues are reflected in the wall to a really cool effect. The quote "Freedom is not free", the casualty statistics and the names of countries that sent troops are all part of the memorial as well.

We went over to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which seemed much bigger than the first time I saw it. I'd not realized back then that the names were all in order, or that the design was so controversial when it was first picked out. It had been a full day, but we still had to get back to Union Station, so we got back on the bus, went past the golden sword in front of the White House and back up the National Mall. As we drove past the west side of the Capitol building, we decided to hang out there for a while, get some pictures and gaze down the National Mall. After our gazing was done, we went back to Union Station, got some souvenirs and had dinner at Pizzeria UNO.

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