My country ‘tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died!
Land of the Pilgrim's pride!
From every mountain side,
Let freedom ring!
I can’t help feeling full of pride and patriotism whenever I hear this song, along with America the Beautiful and Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA (which I’m listening to as I type this blog!). I’m ashamed to admit this, but when I was in school, I didn’t enjoy learning about history. While I liked American history, I didn’t love it; and I absolutely detested world history...which is kind of ironic since I love reading historical romance. *g* But in recent years, I have come to really appreciate our country’s history, thanks in part to my son’s avid interest in it. At 11 years old, his knowledge and passion of American history and its presidents is incredible and astounds me. He has inspired my husband and me to learn more, and his zeal has even rubbed off on our seven year old daughter. So, where do you think we went on vacation last week? Why, Washington DC, of course! And since our country’s birthday is fast approaching, I thought it would be fitting to share with you a little about our trip to our nation’s capital.
“I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” – Thomas Jefferson
The Jefferson Memorial was the first monument we visited and I got chill bumps when I looked up at the statue of our beloved third president and read the above quote circling the inside of the dome. Thomas Jefferson accomplished so much in America’s beginning that it is only fitting that he received an amazing memorial dedicated to him. If you haven’t been to Washington DC, or haven’t visited the Jefferson Memorial, you should really make an effort to. It is a must see!
“In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
Next up was the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial. Since my son had recently written a biography book report on FDR, and we had visited his Little White House in Warm Springs, Georgia, this spring, we simply had to see his beautiful memorial for ourselves. It was even more beautiful and bigger that we imagined and undoubtedly suits our longest serving president.
“...that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” – Abraham Lincoln, from his Gettysburg Address
The Lincoln Memorial was the monument that we were most looking forward to as Abraham Lincoln is my son’s all-time favorite president. He did a speech about Lincoln for 4H this year and has at least eight different books about our 16th president. To say that we were inspired and filled with hope at seeing Lincoln immortalized in white marble would be an understatement. It is by far one of the most breath-taking sights I have ever seen. I got chill bumps again. In one word: amazing. And the fact that my son was on cloud 9 made my heart sing!
|World War II Memorial|
We saw several other memorials, such as the Korean War Veterans Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, but the one I most longed to see was the World War II Memorial, which commemorates the sacrifice and celebrates the victory of “the greatest generation”—which is an apt description as my 91 year old grandfather served in World War II and I consider him one of the greatest men I’ve ever known. The memorial features granite columns, bronze panels, 4,048 gold stars (representing the more than 450,000 American lives that were lost), and numerous inspirational quotes carved in stone. It is a remarkable tribute.
|Ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz|
Visiting at least a few of the many museums that Washington DC has to offer was on our list of things to do. We went to the Air and Space Museum, the National Gallery of Art, the Museum of Natural History, and while we enjoyed all of these, our favorite was the Museum of American History. It is an absolute must see for anyone who appreciates any or all aspects of American History. They have everything from the top hat that Abraham Lincoln wore to Ford’s Theatre on the night he was assassinated, to the ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz, to the 1903 Winton—the first car driven across the United States, to Julia Childs’ kitchen. We learned so much and if we ever go back, we plan to visit it again.
Other highlights included:
|The Washington Monument|
The Washington Monument, which is dedicated to our first president. We went inside and up the elevator to the top. The view from all four sides was simply magnificent!
|The National Archives|
The National Archives, which houses the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. More chill bumps.
Ford’s Theatre, the place where President Lincoln was assassinated. On display in the museum are the clothes Lincoln was wearing that fateful night, one of the pillows his head was laid upon, and the gun that John Wilkes Booth used to kill him.
Arlington Cemetery, where greats like Audie Murphy and Presidents John F. Kennedy and William Howard Taft are buried, along with the Tomb of the Unknowns. Big chill bumps.
|The White House|
And, of course, I have to include the White House, the U.S. Capitol Building, and the busy Union Station. Not to mention the many statues, memorials, and monuments placed throughout the city, including our favorites of Benjamin Franklin and Ulysses S. Grant. And when we left DC, we made sure to stop by Mt. Vernon to visit the home of George Washington and see his and Martha’s tombs. That was something really special. All in all, it was the trip of a lifetime and as my kids put it: the BEST vacation ever!!
So, dear readers, have you ever visited Washington DC? If so, what were your favorite things to see and do? If not, is there a place that you had wanted to visit and were finally able to? Tell me about it!