November 11, 2011

Honoring Those Who Served

Tim and I are in Washington, D.C., on Veterans Day.  How cool is that?  We had originally debated about going to Washington, but as my friend Manny said, “How can you do a road trip in the United States and not go to Washington?”  How true.

It’s mainly to visit with Manny, however, that we are here.  We had breakfast with him and his wife Guiomar and met their beautiful daughter Anna-Ceci.  She is adorable, with the sweetest smile.

Tim, Sarah, Manny, Anna-Ceci and Guiomar
Manny, Tim and I then headed off to the Mall to see a bit of the city.  I lived in Washington for two years, but there are so many sites that I never took the time to visit.  One was the National Archives.  I had been there twice to conduct historical research but had never toured the exhibits.  Tim especially wanted to visit, and it seemed fitting that we should make that our first stop.  

The National Archives
In the rotunda, we viewed the Charters of Freedom, America’s most treasured documents. On display are the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  It’s amazing that these documents are actually on exhibit, albeit in a heavily secure environment.  The Public Vaults exhibit lets you wander “into the stacks” at the Archives through interactive displays and helps the public understand why records matter to everyone.  We didn’t need to be convinced, but it was a great exhibit nonetheless.

The American Galleries at the National Gallery of Art have always been a favorite of mine, and we spent a bit of time wandering from room to room.  A new find was the Shaw Memorial, which is on long-term loan from the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, which we visited last month.  There, we were able to see a bronze cast of the plaster version of the sculpture, which is on display here at the National Gallery.  Tim and I have been on the road long enough now that we are starting to make connections between places, events and themes.  

The Shaw Memorial at the National Gallery of Art
We ventured out onto the Mall, where we started walking towards the Washington Monument and some of the many memorials.  The Washington Monument is closed following the recent earthquake, but I am happy just to view it from outside.

View Down the Mall

Veterans Day Tribute
The new World War II Memorial, dedicated in 2004, was next, and it was very moving to be there with veterans in uniform, paying tribute to “The Greatest Generation.”  Many flowers and wreaths had been placed along the base of the memorial.

World War II Memorial

Sarah and Tim at the World War II Memorial
(Manny Made Fun of My Hat!)
Similar tributes lined the Korean War Veterans Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.  The Vietnam Veterans Memorial always elicits a tug on the heart, and it did so again today.  Dog tags, red poppies, photographs and other mementos continue to be placed below the names of loved ones killed during the war, and people can be seen searching for that one name on the wall that contains so many.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial
The Korean War Veterans Memorial was new to me, and it also features a wall with images of faces etched in the stone.  Our favorite part of the memorial, however, was not the wall, nor the stainless-steel statues of soldiers, but the Pool of Remembrance, which is encircled by a grove of trees which still retained their bright yellow leaves.

Pool of Remembrance at the Korean War Veterans Memorial
Before we left, we could not miss seeing the Lincoln Memorial with its monumental statue. Again, we thought about the connections to Gettysburg, which we had just recently visited. Looking down the Mall from atop the memorial was striking.

Statue of Abraham Lincoln by Daniel Chester French
View from the Lincoln Memorial
I’m really glad that we were in Washington today, to experience what we did and to spend time with Manny.  We are so grateful that he was able to spend the day with us.

A Monumental City


  1. All the memorials are wonderful but the Lincoln one always moves me the most. Glad you got to see them all. LV

  2. LV, The Lincoln Memorial is also one of my favorites. It's impressive from the ground, but so much more so after you climb the steps and stand in front of the statue. I'm just sorry we never got to see the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. Next time. Sarah