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I tried to book our hotel in Washington D.C. through Wednesday so that we might visit the local Six Flags park here without cutting out any of our other plans. Unfortunately, for the rate I received through priceline (really good!) we have to check out on Tuesday. Originally Friday was supposed to be a leisurely day as we drove up to Washington D.C., but we decided to wake up early, and drive straight to Six Flags America for a few hours before going to our hotel for the night. This way we still get four days to explore Washington D.C. itself.
On Friday morning we woke very early (by our standards) and were on the road by 8am. We arrived at the park around 11am and got out of the area by 4pm. After leaving Six Flags we fought the D.C. area traffic all the way to our hotel. Our hotel is in Maryland about 20 miles outside of the city. We plan to take the subway into the city in lieu of driving.
Saturday morning we arrived at the subway station around noon after eating lunch. The subway ride took about 30 minutes and brought us right next to the capital mall, just outside the area housing all of the Smithsonian museums. When we emerged from the station I got a map and quickly found the National Holocaust Memorial Museum which was at the top of our list of things to see.
I had read online that tickets to the museum were free, but only a limited amount were handed out every day. We decided to see if any tickets were available for today. Luckily, we got some tickets for 1:45pm and were able to see this powerful museum. When I was 14 years old I was one of ten kids in my school who was selected to attend a holocaust convention in Las Vegas. During this convention I spent a whole day in seminars and workshops learning about not only the holocaust, but also the Armenian Genocide. At the convention I met holocaust survivors who told me chilling tails of what they went through. I am no stranger to this subject and it takes it’s toll on me emotionally every time I expose myself to it. As a father, I feel that Shawn Reece needs to learn about what hate can do. Hate is so poisonous to this world and it’s impact effects everyone’s life so profoundly.
The museum corridors get very crowded and it takes awhile to move from exhibit to exhibit. I believe the museum wasn’t designed to host as many people as they let in. The subject matter is so important however, that I don’t blame them for letting absolutely everyone they can in! The museum itself is five stories and chalked full of information starting with the rise of Hitler to power all the way to the resettlement of the Jewish people in the late 1940’s. I decided that I had to skip some of the information in an effort to keep Shawn Reece interested. Once Shawn Reece gets bored, it can be miserable. I don’t blame him either, a lot of the museums we have come across are boring. This one was not.
By the time we were done, we had spent about three hours in the National Holocaust Museum. It still took us that long even though we skipped about half of the information in order to get done quicker. Shawn Reece may not have understood the gravity of it all (which at six I don’t expect him to), but he certainly understood why people shouldn’t carry hate around in their heart.
After leaving the holocaust museum, we decided to walk over to the monuments. The first that we passed was the Washington Monument. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get tickets to go to the top, but we are hopeful that we might be able to get them on Monday. After viewing the Washington Monument we journeyed over to the World War II Memorial. The World War II Memorial is situated between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. The memorial itself is very inviting as the water fountains and benches allow many people to take a break there. Just in the distance we saw the Lincoln Memorial and couldn’t wait to get over to it!
I had heard that the Lincoln Memorial was impressive. I don’t know what it is about the statue, but it is quite striking. I think Lincoln’s figure is so beloved that his statue brings about comfort to Americans. The building that houses the memorial is a wonder itself and like most everything in Washington was designed with classical architecture. The stairs leading up to Mr. Lincoln are made of marble and the whole site is quite comfortable. Many people just sit on the steps outside staring at the reflecting pool and the Washington Monument in the distance. The whole area was designed to make the experience stunning in so many ways.
After leaving Abraham Lincoln we headed over to the Korean War Memorial and then the Vietnam War Memorial. My dad’s stepbrother was killed in Vietnam and I decided to find his name on the wall. When I contemplated how big the wall was, along with how it represented the names of each and every person who gave their life for our country in only that one war, I was overwhelmed. Life is so precious and they made the ultimate sacrifice. Those who know me personally, have seen me at many times identify various things as overwhelmingly profound. I have learned that my ability to feel things so strongly is one of my greatest strengths. Having said that, most everything in Washington seems profound in one way or another!
Coming from the memorials, on the way back to the subway we stopped at a little house on Pennsylvania Avenue. We had taken a couple of peeks from afar earlier in the day, but it was our time to see the White House. Since tours of the White House are only given to people who arrange for tickets at least 3 months in advance, we knew the street view was as much as we were going to see. We fooled around taking pictures for awhile in front of this iconic building before finally going back to the subway station.
The holocaust museum took such a toll on me, that I felt fatigued from the many emotional downs all day long. Today turned out to be a good day to get our feet wet in the nation’s capital. We may take a guided tour via trolley if we run out of time to see the overwhelming amount of places around Washington D.C. Sometime during the next couple of days we are going to go to Mt. Vernon, George Washington’s estate. Tomorrow we are hoping to get tickets to see the Capitol Building. We also plan to visit some of the other museums that are part of the Smithsonian. Most of the worthwhile activites here are free as well. It is really amazing to see how much there is to do here. Over the next three days, we plan to work our legs as hard as possible in order to see as much as we can! With that I will leave you waiting for more from the district.
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The Coomer Family
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