Thursday, October 30, 2008

Keith and Cathey's Excellent East Coast Adventure

Aside from having a great visit with the Milarchs, we were fortunate to be able to take in some of the touristy sites in the area. We spent two whole days on the Washington Mall checking out the monuments, taking a bus tour of Arlington Cemetery and downtown DC. We also got to visit the National Aquarium at Baltimore with Ben, Lauren and the kids.

Spending time in the historical district of downtown DC made me quite reflective. We spent some time at most of the monuments and visiting them left me feeling awed at the history behind each of them. Standing at the base of the Washington Monument and looking up feels like it goes on forever. I loved reading the words of President Lincoln at his memorial - they gave me a new perspective on the Civil War. The war memorials were the most inspiring. The Vietnam Memorial is so understated, but very powerful. America's shame became a black marble chronological list of all who gave their lives in a war we never intended to win. The Korean War Memorial was haunting. Pictures don't do justice to standing near the soldiers "walking" out of the woods. The World War II Memorial was my favorite. President Bush oversaw the building of this monument and it is impressive. Each state and U.S. colony who played a part in the war is represented around a beautiful pool and fountain. It's interesting that the building of the War Memorials went backwards in order, starting with Vietnam. There is no memorial for World War I, but there probably will be in time.

The Washington Monument from the Lincoln Memorial.

The wall - Vietnam Memorial.
Korean Memorial. World War II Memorial.

Arlington Cemetery is spectacular and awe-inspiring. The rows and rows upon rows of our nation's heroes, known and unknown, left me speechless. We visited the grave sites of JFK, RFK, President Taft, Challenger and Columbia Astronauts, John McCain's father and grandfather and so many other familiar names. The changing of the guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers brought tears to my eyes. At each change of guard, the incoming guard takes a vow to never leave his post. While on duty, each guard steps off 21 paces, clicks his boots together, places his gun on the opposite shoulder and paces 21 steps back then clicks his boots and changes shoulders again as an honorary 21 gun salute. This goes on 24-7.

Tomb of the Unknowns. Robert Kennedy's marker - he requested a simple white wooden cross.

John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and their two infants who died at birth. The Eternal Flame burns regardless of weather. It's interesting that John Jr. is not buried here, but was buried at sea.

It also struck me that in each of those buildings we walked around in the downtown DC area, the business of running the U.S. government takes place. We saw the Whitehouse, the capitol, the different department buildings. We had lunch in the Ronald Reagan International Trade Building. It all made me feel very patriotic.
Our nation's capitol and the White House.The State Department and the Dept. of Agriculture.
The National Aquarium is amazing. We spent all day there and didn't spend long at any one exhibit. Madeline and Max love going there and we were delighted to be able to share that adventure with them. Ben also took us to see Andrews Air Force Base where he works. He does secret secret stuff - flying helicopters around D.C. and hauling dignitaries and such. We even got to see where they store Air Force 1. We're very proud of Ben and the work he does on our country's behalf. We;ll be praying for his safety when he leaves for Iraq in March.

There was much more to see, but it was a fulfilling trip. When we go back (looks like Ben and Lauren will be in MD for at least a few years) we would like to get to the Smithsonian museums and perhaps rent a car and drive through some of the nearby cities and states. It all made me realize how very young the West is in comparison to the rich history of the East.

All in all, a delightful and excellent adventure.


At November 3, 2008 at 2:23 PM , Blogger Chaffin Family said...

Sounds like a great trip. Thanks for sharing the pictures. I can't wait to go there in June.


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