Friday, October 23, 2015

DC, Inspiration for Individuals and a Nation Part 1

When we don't think it can get any hotter (in the 100's),  we  are headed to Washington DC.  There doesn't seem to be a good time to go to DC in the summer.... It seems to be hot and get hotter and then a whole lot of humidity was stirred into the pot.  We choose to bite the bullet and just go.

We have friends who live near DC, so we are able to park the Roadtrek in front of their townhouse and plug into electricity so the kitties stay comfy in the air conditioning.  They live one mile from a Metro stop so we are dropped off and picked up after the day of tourist fun.

DC is one of my favorite cities.  While I have visited many times, this will be Hailey's first visit and I want her to come away with a flavor of the city that I love.  There is so much to see in DC, it is difficult deciding what we will not have time to see this trip.  When beginning our trip of 10 weeks, it seemed that we would have sooo much time to see and experience all this country has to offer.  In hind sight there is so much to do that it is really painful at times to have to make choices.  

On our first day, we head to the Smithsonian Museums.

Since I had traveled on the Metro before, it was pretty easy to navigate around the city.  It is one of the cleanest Metro's I have been on and certainly safe for daytime travel and I haven't had much hesitancy in traveling alone on the Metro.

After our 2 days in DC, Hailey rode the Metro like a Champ.

On our first day, we head to the Smithsonian Museums. 


The Air and Space Museum marks the great progress in air travel.

Beginning with the first primitive successful flights of the Wright Brothers in 1903,  then the Spirit of St. Louis that was flown solo by Charles Lindbergh on May 20–21, 1927, on the first non-stop flight from New York to Paris.

 And on to Space travel .... the progress in a short time is amazing.....

We both found it shocking how very small the space capsules were.  It is hard to imagine being cooped up in those early space capsules and no where to stretch your legs!!

Mercury Friendship 7 that John Glenn orbited the Earth in 1962


Apollo 11 Command Module that carried, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins back from the Moon in 1969.  Who doesn't remember where they were during the first Moon Walk, July 20, 1969?

In the American History Museum, I was shocked when entering the exhibit area to discover that the Star Spangled Banner was not in its place in the exhibit hall.  In its place was a new flag.

To say I was disappointed was an understatement..... but I was relieved to discover that tradition had not been undone.  The flag had been moved to a different location that contained it in a vacuum sealed case to preserve it from further deterioration.  The low light requirements does not allow for flash photography but our traditions can still be seen by the masses.

What do you most remember about the Natural History Museum....... For me it has always been the Dinosaur Exhibit......Not this was closed for renovation. But there is always next time.

 We took in art exhibits at the Hirshhorn Gallery......Hailey's request

The Age of Enlightenment by Yinka Shonibare  
A Satire of contrasts highlighting the history of western culture with scientific and technological  progress yet expanding colonization of underdeveloped countries and cultures.

Sound Suit  by Nick Cave
Nick Cave has created dozens of Sound Suits of cast off items. to be stand alone art exhibits or as costumes that performers wear

The Book, by Ansiem Kiefer
Born in Germany, the artist often uses books as a medium to express the way in which
books can symbolize knowledge and progress as well as dogma and myths and be used to shape or warp cultural belief and understanding.

I Am Its Secret, (Women of Allah)  Shirin Neshat

Probably the most emotionally challenging was a special exhibit.  I had not anticipated an art gallery would challenge my own beliefs and biases and trigger my own feelings of discomfort with Middle East Cultural differences. 

The exhibit included both photography with poetry and prose etched on the faces telling the stories of Women of the Middle East and especially her native Iran.

Black, White and Red, the colors represents the stark contrasts in cultural differences and stark realities of change in the world of women in the Middle East.

The Sights of DC

In my lifetime, I have also seen the addition of new memorials as they have been built and dedicated.  

Each time I visit DC it seems a different monument is my most memorable monument.  We made the rounds to all the major monuments which at one time or another have been my most memorable for that trip.

I'm unable to explain why each visit has a standout as many of the memorials have had their day as the most touching memorial.

Who of our generation is not touched when visiting the Vietnam Memorial.  With each visit, I have seem people making paper etchings from the names, and placing of mementos at the base where, fellow soldiers, family members or friends names are memorized.   It is impossible to visit the memorial without feeling emotional.

Though a controversial war, and a then initially a controversial monument, the Vietnam Memorial is one of the most visited monuments in DC with more than 3,000,000 visitors each year.

The memorial was dedicated on November 13, 1982, after a march to its site by thousands of Vietnam War veterans.

About two years later the Three Soldiers statue was dedicated.

During this visit, the memorial that was most captivating to me was the Korean War Memorial.

19 larger than statues depicting the American military

 More than 2,500 photographic, archival images representing the land, sea and air troops who
  supported those who fought in the war are sandblasted onto the wall.

The memorial was dedicated on July 27, 1995
 the 42nd anniversary of the armistice that ended the war.

 Inscriptions on two plaques caught my attention and are planted firmly in my heart.

"Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country 
                                     they never knew and a people they never met."

The Martin Luther King Memorial

The memorial opened to the public on August 22, 2011.

The Memorial to Martin Luther King was somewhat of a disappoint and yet an inspiration at the same time.  The facial likeness did not match my minds memory of this great man.  I was inspired by the design of the monument.  To me the monument represents the work of Martin Luther King remains unfinished.

The official address of the monument, 1964 Independence Avenue, S.W., commemorates the year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 became law.

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

 "Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that."

How can one walk the streets of Washington DC and not be inspired? 


  1. Wonderful stop on your journey, DC has so much to offer in education. Great art too

  2. LOVE DC. We were there for more than a week, flew home Thursday, just before you arrived! Weather was wonderful, wasn't it! :) Glad you had fun.

  3. You did an amazing amount in DC in such a short period of time. It's funny that for those who lived within a couple of hours, the week-ends were the times to go there since it is so busy with the government workers during the week. I have a very hard time with war memorials, all of them other than those to the Second World War since they all seem so sad to me. Young men and women losing their lives and I'm not at all convinced that they were really defending our freedom.

    1. I agree with your thoughts about the War Memorials. I would much rather see memorials dedicated to Peace and humanitarian efforts, such as Martin Luther Kings. I due appreciate that we must remember what happened and how it happened in order to move forward hopefully in a more peaceful direction. Karen