Monday, October 19, 2009

Washington, DC, 9/28/09

I went to Washington, DC at the end of September to visit several old friends and, of course, to go to a U2 show with one of them.

I’d never been to DC before, and Monday before the show my friend and host spent a day taking me to some of the major attractions. Since it was a Tourism Blitz, we didn’t really go into any of the museums or anything – just hit the high points. It was amazing! I had no idea it was possible to see so many monumental sites (really, no pun intended) in one day, so close together.

First, I learned to ride the Metro, DC’s light rail system, which seemed like a great system run sensibly – buy a card, prepay it, scan it when you get on and when you get off, and it deducts you for that ride. Fill it up at a kiosk at the station with your atm card. How much more convenient could it be?

We started at Arlington National Cemetery, the national cemetery for war dead, home of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and several Kennedys. Our ‘hit the high points’ agenda included the grave of John F. Kennedy (now with more Jacqueline and eternal flame).


It was smaller and flatter than I imagined – I think I was thinking of something more like the tomb of the unknowns. I liked it, though – relatively plain and simple – and I liked the stonework.

Nearby is Robert Kennedy’s much simpler grave, then Teddy’s.


You can see the outline of the new sod.

Arlington itself was a good place to visit, too. I’d like to go back when I have more time. A cemetery is a very effective monument to the glories of war. Imho.

One long walk across a long bridge later (well, the bridge was long if you’re walking it) and we came up behind the Lincoln Memorial. You know it, you love it.


Looking over the national mall from the Lincoln Memorial:


From there, on the right is the Korean War Memorial, and on the left is the Vietnam War Memorial. (and, of course, straight ahead is the Washington Monument, and waaay past that, the Capitol.) We went to the Korean memorial first; apparently I have never seen any pictures of it – it was amazing. I’d never seen anything like it. The pictures don’t really do it justice. A striking kind of diorama of a unit of soldiers with all their gear, looking tired and brave.


And then, of course, the Vietnam Memorial. I liked how one’s path sank gradually, as into a grave. You read one name, another name, and another, and they go on and on, and it’s like the rows and rows of tombstones at Arlington. Absolutely overwhelming.


We went on to the World War II memorial, which was gigantic with a plinth for each state and lot of water. I don’t know that I’ve ever used the word “plinth” before, by the way. Then we walked several blocks away – past many important government buildings and the Red Cross headquarters – to the White House’s back yard. Which, wow. One of the many, many places it was very difficult to tear myself away from.


At this point we were hot and tired and footsore, so we went a few blocks further to the Press Club and had lunch at a little sandwich place there (and did a bit of touristy shopping, too) before heading back to the mall and eyeing the Washington Monument from yet another angle before admitting we were too pooped to go right up to it. We also admired many great views of the Capitol and various places where Josh Lyman went jogging on “The West Wing.” Finally we limped into the Air and Space Museum just to use their bathroom, but on the way to the facilities I touched a moon rock that’s on exhibit for that purpose, so that was cool.

Here’s my whole flickr set for the day:

No comments: