Wednesday, October 19, 2016

American Revolution Road Trip: A Detour To Washington, DC's Monuments and Memorials

If we're going to take time out of our precious American Revolution road trip to detour to Washington, D.C., then of course we're going to see ALL THE THINGS there! And that's why even after a morning hike to the train station, an hour-long train ride into the city, a full day flitting through three Smithsonian museums until they closed, and before our evening hike back to the train station, hour-long train ride out of the city, and night-time hike back to our hotel, we took a late-afternoon hike over to see all the monuments and memorials we could see before the sun went down.

We saw a lot of them!
This lovely family portrait...

...was more than one child could handle.

Happily, the other child can handle anything. In fact, here she is holding up the entire Washington Monument!
You know how you tell your kids that if they're lost, they should find a police officer or a mom with kids to ask for help? Well, one thing that kept repeatedly happening to me over our vacation is that people would come up to me and ask me for random types of help. Seriously, somebody would beeline through a crowd just to approach me and ask me to photograph her, or walk right past Matt to come up to me and ask me a question. Here, a young man holding a Washington, DC, guidebook stopped me and said, in halting English, "Excuse me, but what are we looking at?"

"It's the Washington Monument," I said, and away he went to photograph it from a better angle, flipping through his guidebook to find its entry.

Another thing that I should probably tell you, if you don't already know it about me, is that I fairly often do mean things to Will. For instance, I have a rule that we use the stairs at the library, because exercise, but when she's alone, she likes to use the elevator. At least once a month or so, if I'm meeting her at the library or picking her up there, I'll happen to see her getting onto the elevator as I enter the lobby. I will then dash up the stairs, race over to the elevator banks, stand with my nose against the doors to her elevator, and, when it opens, yell "Boo!" and scare the shit out of her.

It is never not funny.

Anyway, you could walk right up to the Washington Monument, and people were standing around it touching it, so I said to Will, "It's supposed to be good luck to lick the Washington Monument. Go do it."

She was all, "Uh, NO!", but I was all, "Oh, come on! You can't come to the Washington Monument and not lick it! It's tradition!"

"Well, why don't you lick it, then?"

"Jeez, Will, I've already been here once and licked it, and your dad came here as a kid. It's serious good luck, so you only get to lick it once. Look, did you see that guy just lick it? Oh, look, there's another one!"

Matt did not verbally protest, but he did give me major stink-eye as my kid then walked over, put her nose against the Washington Monument, hesitated for a few seconds, and then tentatively licked it.

Don't judge me. She was a major jerk to me at fencing last night, and this is practically my sole source of pleasure.

We didn't lick anything at the World War 2 memorial--

--although I swear, the second that I found the section that pertains to Pappa, a guy set his camera on a little tripod right on top of it and began to take a bunch of selfies while I stood to the side and seethed. Can I just say for a second that memorials are not your playground or your photo shoot location? People seemed to behave suitably respectfully at the Vietnam Veteran Memorial, but on our trip I saw plenty of people treating other memorials just like random pieces of public sculpture. Here at the World War 2 Memorial, I was upset and missing my Pappa like nobody's freaking business, and I just wanted to look at the monument made to his heroism and think about him, while random tourists bumped into me and gossiped loudly and basically acted like jerks in that sacred space.

*steps down off of soapbox*

Pappa fought in the Atlantic theater, and this monument included the place names of the major fields of battle in that theater. I was surprised and touched by this, because it meant a lot to Pappa that he stormed the beach at Anzio, and helped liberate Rome. He joined the Army straight from CCC, before the US declared war, and I asked him once if he'd have joined if he'd known he'd have to fight. He said simply that he would have, because it needed to be done:

 It was a really beautiful memorial.

Here's the view from the edge of that memorial, across the reflecting pool and to the Lincoln Memorial:

And here's the view from the other end!

I was super excited to see the Lincoln Memorial, as we'd actually done a short unit study on it in the summer. We studied Lincoln (remember when we went to his boyhood home?) and the artist of the memorial, organized a field trip for our homeschool group to a special collections library that has an excellent collection of Lincoln artifacts, and made sculptures.

Here are some of the other resources that we enjoyed from that unit:

The culminating activity, then, was to visit the actual Lincoln Memorial, live and in person:

 Did I mention that we also memorized the Gettysburg Address for that unit? We memorized the Gettysburg Address, and here it is!

One of my goals while visiting the monuments was to find a park ranger and pick up National Mall Junior Ranger books for the kids, but we got there so late that there wasn't a park ranger to be found. I finally accosted one who was trying to sneak past me to retrieve his water bottle from the information booth (which I was stalking), and he told me to go knock on the door of a certain office inside the Lincoln Memorial.

He also told me that he'd been trying not to be seen in the booth since his shift was over and if anyone saw him, he'd soon have a line of people wanting to talk to him. After we thanked him and walked away, he sighed and turned to deal with the next person in the line of people who had formed behind us as we'd talked.


Will was completely uninterested in hiking back up to the Lincoln Memorial, so Matt and Syd went up and then came back down a long time later. Matt said that there'd been nobody in that particular office when they'd knocked, but that they'd attracted the attention of a police officer while they stood there, and when he came over to investigate, Matt told him what they were after and he opened up the office and popped in, himself, to see if he could find the books. Unfortunately, he came out with only a couple of little activity pages, not the official books, but as my face fell Matt took me by the shoulder and whispered into my ear, "He also gave me two Junior Ranger badges and said we could give them to the kids after we thought they'd learned enough."

Hallelujah! Don't tell the kids, though, because they still haven't earned those badges to my satisfaction...

We didn't get the tour of the White House that I'd wanted (although we DID get the tour of the US Capitol, and I'll show it to you tomorrow!), so we had to just walk by and look at it from a distance, sigh:

But we did see protesters and news reporters and, on the hike back to the train station, we stopped at Syd's favorite DC destination: Dunkin' Donuts.

Next time: we're going to see the US Capitol!

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