Damned Boy Scouts!
Okay, that was harsh. I’m not really damning them, just their extreme proliferation as our trip progressed. Apparently, we managed to time our trip to coincide with the annual Boy Scout pilgrimage to D.C. so I was exposed to every shape and size and color of uniform as we made our way through more memorials.
Interesting factoid: Our international students were amazingly interested in what was proving to be a very America-centric tour, and my 8th grade Social Studies knowledge was put to the test as I fielded questions like “What was the Vietnam War all about?” or “Holocaust? You mean le genocide?”
Our first stop of the day was the Iwo Jima Memorial aka the Marine Corps War Memorial which is truly awe-inspiring and much larger in real life than it’s depicted in photos.
A quick bus ride and then we arrived at the relatively new memorial (completed in 2008) for Martin Luther King Jr. Can you tell this was my favorite by far? I took enough photos…
As the sun blazed overhead, we trudged through to the FDR Memorial. By this time, the rest of the tourists had caught up to us and I was having a difficult time getting people-free shots. A pity, because this was my second favorite of the memorials. I was entranced by all the quotes chiseled on stone and the rambling layout – it was like walking through a maze of presidential wisdom. They just don’t talk like that anymore, do they?
The Jeffersonian Memorial got short shrift from me, both attention-wise and photo-wise, because it was horrifically hot and muggy and even the power of my Thermos bottle couldn’t keep my agua cool.
I also had to pee. Badly.
So by the time we arrived, having trekked through all kinds of nature to get there, all I wanted was to find a toilet then sit in relative quiet and coolness in the underground info center. Here, then, are my half-hearted attempts to capture the memory of the final memorial:
We weren’t allowed to take any photos in the Holocaust Museum which ended up being a blessing. I’d visited it before and I’ve also been to the Simon Wiesenthal Museum in Los Angeles. I remember both experiences to be moving and heart-wrenching but that was before I was a mom.
This time, as I walked through the exhibits, I found I couldn’t stomach any of it. All I kept thinking was “What about the children?” and growing progressively more and more emotionally distraught.
I pushed my way through three floors and crowds of people and sat next to our tour guide for the remainder of the time. I just couldn’t.
We ended up spending more time at the museum than anticipated so lunch was a hurried, harried affair of vouchers at Union Station and to-go boxes hastily packed. We got on the bus and I spent the succeeding six hours in an air conditioned daze of exhaustion and memory.
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. And I don’t regret a single moment.