Thursday, May 31, 2007

Memorial Weekend Day 2 (Saturday)

Saturday was the one day we had reserved for sightseeing while in Washington, D.C. We knew we had a lot of ground to cover, so talked over breakfast how we wanted to accomplish it. I wasn't wild about riding the motorcycles around D.C. with the kids all day, not knowing the traffic pattern, so we discussed whether we wanted to drive the van or take the Metro. We all agreed that the Metro was probably the way to go. So after having our breakfast and getting everybody ready to go, we caught the hotel shuttle to the station there in Springfield. We all purchased a 1-Day Pass which gave us unlimited access to the Metro-rail in the area for the entire day, for $6.50 each. Not too bad.

Our first stop was Arlington National Cemetery. I felt a strong need to go there so we could pay our respects to those we knew who now rest there. I had done some research online in preparation for our trip. I knew for sure of one of my husband's fellow officers who is buried there whose wife was a friend of mine in Germany. In searching for his location online, I learned of a few others who rest in the same section. So upon arriving at Arlington, we stopped at the Visitor Center to find out how to get to CPT Kenny's gravesite. I knew once we found him we'd be able to visit the others as well. We found the section easily, and my mom and her boyfriend went off to try to find a friend of his while we walked around in 'our' section. It was an emotional visit for me, and certainly much more so for the hubby. One of the graves we visited was that of an officer who lost his life the day my hubby took command of his company. I didn't remember this, but apparently he was in Field Artillery school with my husband back in 1999, before the hubby came back on Active Duty and was branched Armor again. It's truly a small Army.

After paying our respects, we made our way to the Tomb of the Unknowns. We learned at the Visitor Center that during the summer months, they change the guard every half hour. We knew that we would get there just about in perfect time to see the ceremony. I had seen it back in 1987 on my first visit to D.C., but the hubby had never had the opportunity. I'm always impressed at the precision of that ceremony. I know it's a drill ceremony that is reheared numerous times, but that doesn't make it any less impressive for me. Following the Changing of the Guard, as the crowd thinned out and went to leave, the hubby moved closer to the barrier and saluted the Unknown who rest there. I was moved nearly to tears.

We then made our way to the Kennedy gravesite. That's one of those places that is a must-see. The last time I was there, as I mentioned before, was 1987. Since then, of course, Jackie has passed, and she now lies next to JFK. The view from that site is beautiful. The Arlington house is above it, and there is a beautiful view across Washington, D.C., from there. You can see the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial clearly. I can certainly understand why the Kennedys chose that spot.

After leaving the Kennedy gravesite, we made our way back toward the Visitor Center to get back on the Metro and go on into Washington. We had originally planned to stop and see the Iwo Jima memorial, but it was getting late and we needed to get something to eat, so we decided to go on to the Smithsonian stop, since we knew it would be easier to find food there. Once we got into the city, we made our way to the Reagan Building, because according to our map there was a Subway restaurant there, and everybody agreed that would be a good place to eat. Once we got there, we discovered there was actually a food court with a good variety. I found a gift shop and bought the kids each a one-time-use camera that I had been promising to get them so they could take their own pictures, and we got something to eat. We also enjoyed the opportunity to sit and relax in the air-conditioned building for a little while.

After our late lunch (it was actually supper time by then), we walked to find the White House, which was at the top of the kids' list of things they wanted to see. We found it fairly easily, although not quite as easily as my mom remembered it being from the first time I was there, and got some good pictures. I think that just made the kids' day, and J said later that was his favorite thing about the trip.

We left the White House and walked over to the World War II Memorial. This memorial is incredible. I was impressed, to say the least. We spent some time there looking around. I think the thing I found most impressive and sobering about this memorial was the Wall of Stars. There are 4,000 stars on this wall, and below the wall it says "Here We Mark the Price of Freedom." I found a description of the memorial that night in a magazine in the hotel room, and discovered that each of those stars represents 100 lives lost during the war. 400,000 lost. I don't think I ever truly realized just how many Americans died during World War II.

There were people sitting around the huge fountain with their feet in the water. We were all very hot and tired, so I told the kids they could take their shoes and socks off, and cool their feet in the water. They loved this idea, and jumped at the chance. So they sat there happily for a little while with their feet in the water, and my mom joined them for a bit too. After a while, we made them take their feet out so they would get good and dry before putting their socks and shoes back on to prevent blisters. After spending time there, we made our way back to the Metro and went back to the hotel.

We got back to the hotel and my mom and I played some Uno with the kids for a little bit, and we had a light supper of sandwiches since we had eaten such a late lunch. After eating, we played a couple more hands of Uno, and then the kids and I went back to our room and I gave them a bath and sent them to bed. After all, we had to prepare for an early morning on Sunday!

Here are the pictures I took Saturday: