We’ve been in our nation’s Capitol for two weeks now. During that time we’ve mastered the Metro rail system. We’ve learned how to use the Fast Pass cards, how to read the scanners and how to upload more funds to them. We’ve learned how to read the rail map, where each of the five rails will take us, where they intersect, and how to switch rails. We’ve learned how to use the on and off tour buses, how to decipher their maps, and how to locate their bus stops. We’ve also have a pretty good understanding of where the memorials, monuments, museums and congressional buildings are located, including a few excellent eateries for lunch. We’re finally feeling comfortable here. so what does all this mean? Well, it means it’s time for us to leave.
Tomorrow we will making our way to Richmond, Virginia for a short visit. But today I’ll post a short synopsis of our last two days of touring D.C.
Monday we rode the rails to the Archives/Navy Memorial station and made our way to the proper bus tour stop where we could catch a ride to Ford’s Theater. The theater was erected in 1863 by the very successful businessman John T. Ford. The first performance held in the theater was on August 27, 1863. From then until Lincoln’s assassination on April 14, 1865, the theater staged 495 performances. The success of the theater was attributed to Mr. Ford’s dedication to quality in the construction of the building, its up-to-date equipment, the first rate actors he hired, and to the engaging productions that he mounted.
The theater was closed by the federal government after the President was shot so that a thorough investigation could take place. After the conspirators were tried and hanged, John Ford was given permission to reopen his theater. Threats to burn down the building were made to Ford if he did reopen. It remained closed. Later that year, the War Department leased the building and converted it into an office building. The theater was gutted. In 1866, the government bought the building from Ford. On February 12, 1932, the Lincoln Museum opened on the first floor of the old theater and entrusted the building to the National Park Service. It has since been restored and renovated to his former glory and appears just as it did on that fateful April evening when the President, his wife Mary, and their guests, Clara Harris and Major Henry Reed Rathbone attended the theatrical presentation of Our American Cousin.
The museum gives a quick overview of Lincoln’s political career and his Presidency. Much of the museum is understandably centered around the events leading up to and after the assassination.
Directly across the street from Ford’s Theater is the Petersen House. The first person to enter the Presidential Box after Lincoln was shot was the young doctor Charles Leale, fresh out of medical school. He found the wound to Lincoln’s head and removed a blood clot, which released pressure on Lincoln’s brain and allowed the unconscious president to breathe. Leale assessed the wound to be fatal and ordered Lincoln be carried across the street to the home of William and Anna Petersen. Here the president lingered through the night, never regaining consciousness, until he died. It was 7:22 am on April 15, 1865. It was at that moment that Edwin Stanton, Lincoln’s Secretary of War, uttered the memorable quote “Now he belongs to the ages.”
Back on the bus to our next stop, The White House, again. This time to view it in the light of day. More tourists were milling about than were here during last week’s evening visit. We did observe even more security than before, both on the grounds and outside the gates. Perhaps due to the recent homegrown terrorists attacks in Ottawa, Canada and New York City. By this time we were ready for lunch so we headed to Old Ebbett Grill, just a short walk from the East Gate of the White House.
Old Ebbitt Grill is D.C.’s oldest bar and grill. Established in 1856, Ebbitt’s is popular with politicians, actors and singers. You never know who you might bump into.
Back to the bus stop for a short trip to the White House Visitors Center. Had we realized how close to the restaurant the visitors center was, we would have walked over. The center offers its visitors a glimpse into the lives of the President and his family, both past and present. I did get a kick out of learning that our First Families are not unlike any other American family. Most have difficulty sleeping their first night in the Executive Mansion. Nerves? A little, but more so because they couldn’t wait to explore every nook and cranny of their new home and often did so instead of sleeping. I was also tickled to see a snapshot of the Reagan’s eating off tv trays in the living room while watching the boob tube.
Items on display in the visitors center.
Shortly after, we were back on the Metro, making our way home. We’ve been guilt ridden over leaving our boy alone so much lately that we try not to be gone for more than half the day. He’s always at the door to greet us when we return. he knows full well we’ll spoil him with treats, affection, and a long walk.
Tuesday could not have been a more perfect, gorgeous Fall day. Clear skies, generous sunshine and temps in the high 70’s.
Back on the Metro early, then make our way on foot to the National Mall. First sightseeing stop on the day’s agenda, The Washington Monument. The visitor center at the monument is an excellent place to get your National Parks Passport stamped. They have stamps for everything in the area. I have collected 18 since our arrival.
We chose not to climb the 897 steps to the top, no matter how magnificent the view may be. We had a lot of ground we intended to cover on foot and knew better than to tax our knees beforehand. The monument was built to honor America’s first president, George Washington. At 555′, the marble obelisk towers over Washington D.C. and can be seen from almost every corner. We hopped onto a bus to take us to our next stop on our tour, The Jefferson Memorial.
Dedicated to one of America’s founding fathers and penner of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson. Situated on a tidal basin, majestic in appearance, it is a sight to behold, day or night.
From the memorial we walked around the tidal pool to the opposite side where the FDR and MLK Memorials are located. Both are unique. Upon leaving office, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt stated he did not want a building erected to him. Instead, a landscape architect was hired to design a park like memorial. It is a work of art, bronze, life size statues, marble structures, terraced waterfalls and lots of greenery. The setting is lovely and peaceful.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is based on a line from his “I Have A Dream” speech; “Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” A 30′ tall granite relief of King, “a stone of hope”, stands forward of two other pieces of granite that symbolize the “mountain of despair.”
Once more we boarded the tour bus to take us to the Korean War Memorial. Shaped in a triangle, it shows 19 soldiers dressed in combat gear on patrol. The granite strips and juniper bushes on the ground around them represent the rough terrain of Korea. The black granite wall that runs along the side eerily captures the reflections of the soldiers upon it. The shallow circle pool in front is named the Pool of Remembrance. Photos do not do it justice as it is difficult to capture all of the memorial in one shot. I felt it important to be here, to see this National Memorial, in honor of my father’s service in Korea.
We walked to the Lincoln Memorial from here.
Built to honor our 16th President and perhaps one of the most revered and beloved of any to have ever held the highest office of our land. “In this temple, as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the Union, the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever.” Beneath these words, sits the marble statue of Lincoln as a symbol of unity, strength, and wisdom. The structure with its towering granite columns overlooking the reflecting pond on the National Mall is nothing short of breathtaking.
The Vietnam Memorial is a short walk from the Lincoln Memorial, directly across the reflecting pond from the Korean War Memorial. Built to honor those who served in America’s most controversial war. The black marble panels chronologically lists the names of the 58,000 plus Americans who died in Vietnam. Don’s cousin, Donald Burnett’s name is etched upon the wall. Two bronze statues are also part of the memorial. They are “The Three Servicemen” and the Vietnam Women’s Memorial.
We hiked the length of the reflecting pond to reach the last memorial on our must see list.
The World War II Memorial is dedicated to the over 16 million who served in WWII. The memorial has two 43′ tall structures, one at either end of the pool. The structures represent the two theaters that we fought in, the Atlantic theater and the Pacific theater. To each side of the structures stand 17′ pillars, 56 in all. Each pillar is inscribed with the name of one of the 48 states that existed in 1945, as well as the District of Columbia, the Alaskan and Hawaiian Territories, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands. A tour group of WWII veterans were being feted while we were in attendance. I thanked several for their service.
We boarded a bus headed in the direction of the Metro rail we were taking back to the campground. Disembarking in front of the National Archives, we noted there wasn’t a line to gain entry. What luck! We stepped inside to undergo security checks (for the umpteenth time), so we could proceed to the Rotunda and view three of America’s most important documents for without them, there would be no United States of America. The original Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. No photography is permitted and the encased documents are heavily guarded.
I used stock photos as no photography was allowed.
Now our visit to our Nation’s Capital was complete.
Here’s lookin’ at you kid………………