Our first day in the city, we toured the White House. Thanks to Whit’s mom who managed to secure tickets, we strolled through the various rooms of the presidents’ residence. We meandered around a color wheel, or so it seemed, admiring the Green Room, the Blue Room, the Red Room. Then there was the State Dining Room, the East Room, and the Vermeil Room. And don’t forget the China Room, where the carefully chosen china of presidents is housed.
That afternoon, we toured the Capitol Building with commentary on the various statues and rooms. We stopped at the National Statuary Hall, the Rotunda, and the Crypt.
The Rotunda is a large domed room notable for important ceremonies such as lying in state of eminent citizens. The domed ceiling is adorned with a beautiful painting titled, The Apotheosis of Washington, and friezes line the circular walls. Eight large paintings surround the room, four of the revolutionary period and four scenes of early exploration. Several statues decorate the room, some of former presidents and others including Martin Luther King, Jr. and a portrait monument honoring Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony.
National Statuary Hall is a multistoried semi-circular room with state statues around the perimeter. The Corinthian columns, elaborate ceiling, and stellar statues highlight the room.
The crypt is a circular room with 13 statues around the outer rim signifying the 13 original colonies. The star in the center of the floor is where all streets in Washington D.C. are laid out around.
We then headed over to my favorite place in all of D.C. The Library of Congress. Just admire the pictures and you will see why I fell in love.
And of course we had to snap a picture in front of the Supreme Court with Whit’s “Notorious RBG” sweatshirt. #rbgfangirl
That night we attended a wine tasting event at Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington. The estate lies along the river, studded with graceful elms, ash trees, maples, and poplars. The mansion was initially built in 1735 by George Washington’s father, and was later expanded to the mansion we see today. The plantation unfortunately enslaved many men and women, and the old slave quarters are preserved on site.
On Saturday, we started our two day hop on-hop off bus tour around the city. We walked among the magnificent memorials including the famous Lincoln Memorial. Inside the memorial, two of Lincoln’s famous speeches, the Gettsyburg Address and his second inaugural address, are inscribed on the wall. The memorial is notable for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963. The statue of Lincoln is 60 feet high. His left hand is in a fist, thought to possibly symbolize the letter “A” in American Sign Language, while his left hand is in the shape of the letter “L”, representing Abraham Lincoln in regards to his signing of legislation for Gallaudet University, a university for the deaf.
We also spent some time at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. This memorial in particular was quite moving, as Whit’s dad is a Vietnam Veteran. A childhood friend of the family lost his life in Vietnam and we found his name along the wall. Seeing the 58,000 names along the wall spawned reverence and respect. The wall has a mirror like surface symbolizing the merging of past and present. The wall itself cuts into the ground, representing a large gash or scar in the land that the war caused, but also the possibility of healing and renewal. The statue of three military men represent an African-American, a Hispanic, and a Caucasian soldier looking towards the wall. There is also a statue honoring the many nurses who aided in times of conflict.
The Korean War Veterans Memorial is also incredibly powerful. The 19 statues of soldiers reflect in the wall showing 38 soldiers, symbolizing the 38th parallel separating North and South Korea. It also represents the 38 months of fighting that occurred. The Korean War is often referred to as the forgotten war, despite over 36,000 deaths in the three year period of war between 1950 and 1953. The quote at the front of the monument says it all, “Our nation honors our sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met”.
We also visited the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the WWII Memorial, and the MLK Jr. Memorial, all of which were beautiful.
We later visited the iconic Ford’s Theater where President Lincoln was shot on April 14, 1865, and the Petersen House across the street where he died. The museum on the top floor displays various front pages of newspapers across the country at the time of his assassination.
Exploring the Smithsonian museums are a highlight of any Washington D.C. visit. We chose the National Museum of American History and the National Portrait Gallery. The red brick building is called “the castle” or the Smithsonian Institution Building. The following pictures are from the National Portrait Gallery where we strolled among the dozens of presidential portraits. As we walked through the years of history, the portraits changed, and morphed into more realistic and approachable versions or our nation’s leaders. I found the portrait of Obama incredibly stunning and moving.
The National Museum of American History is an eclectic collection of all things Americana, from Elmo to Julia Child’s kitchen to the lunch counter from the Greensboro sit ins.
We also spent some time in the Holocaust Museum. The museum is multiple floors tall, filled with audio recordings of concentration camp survivors’ stories, photos of lost families, and videos of liberation.
Our second night in town, we toured the monuments in all of their lit glory. Although we had seen the monuments earlier that day, seeing them in the pitch black of night, beaming with light, afforded a new take on the brilliant marble structures.
The second day of our hop on-hop off adventure took us to Arlington National Cemetery where those who fought for our country are buried, starting as early as the Civil War. The thousands of white headstones are perfectly arranged in rows, expanding in every direction. At the top of the hill, The Tomb of The Unknown Soldiers resides. The large marble structure and amphitheater is home to three tombs of unidentified soldiers from WWI, WWII, and the Korean War. We watched a guard wreath ceremony at the memorial before heading over to JFK’s grave with the eternal flame.
We spent the rest of the afternoon in the Georgetown area and Dupont Circle, where adorable row houses and boutique shops line every street. After finding some delectable Thai food, we hit the sack for the night, utterly exhausted and completely content. Our long weekend in Washington D.C. was jam packed to the brim with monuments, memorials, museums, and fun. Next time we visit D.C., I hope to visit the Museum of African American History, as well as the Newseum. Maybe I can even catch some cherry blossoms the next time around!