When one of our grandchildren, graduate from the eight grade, makes their confirmation in the church and as a birthday present we take them on a trip of their choosing.
Mind you this is my grandson who plays baseball and football so I just knew we were on the way to the baseball or football hall of fame.
Wrong! He picks Washington DC and in particular the Smithsonian’s.
As we arrive in the DC area we are greeted by what we called the “rolling parking lot” of DC or better known as the freeways. Thank God we were going to use the Metro systems.
Welcome the Metro—crowded, busy, escalators in many stations not working, cars and stations dirtier than the last time there. However the people were helpful and friendly as they can spot a “visitor”, and tell you’re lost! Drew had first hand experience with this as he was trying to be polite with people 10 rolls deep to get on the car, and he was left at the station, thank God for one of those friendly and helpful people as they let us use their phone to contact him. He was on the next train and all he did was laugh when we saw him. He said he wasn’t afraid but who really knows?
Before going into DC proper we stopped to visit the home of President James Madison, at Montpelier. I could tell Drew wasn’t impressed, as it appeared to be just a big empty house. But, as he looked out over the countryside he decided he wanted to see a civil war battlefield. So we visited Chancellors Ville—watching this 14 year old read the numbers killed in just a day did hit home with him as he couldn’t understand how this could have happened with the weapons they used. From there we proceeded to Arlington Cemetery. Being there before I positioned him right in front of where the changing of the guard takes place and the “inspection”. He was silent and I feel this really had an impact on him, the silence, the uniform being spotless and the same for the weapon, the sternness of his commanding officer doing this inspection. The eerie complete silence as they match off their 21 steps. We showed him Audrey Murphy’s grave but he didn’t know anything about him. Off to the Iwo Jima memorial and this was his first reaction. He could not get over the detail and the faces of the men pulling up the flag their expression and the strength they displayed. The Pentagon was next and we showed him where the plane struck the building,
The next day was a tour of the Capitol and a visit to Senator Blunts office. We were given a tour of the Capital and were able to see the House Chamber. We were invited back the next day for Missouri Mornings in Blunts office. . He meets with the people from Missouri, you are served donuts and drinks and a picture is taken with the Senator.
We also were privileged to be able to go into the Senate while in session and listen to Mr. Liberman speak
The busy day—the Washington Monument, Jefferson memorial, FDR memorial, Martin Luther King memorial, Korean, WW 2, and the Viet Nam Wall memorials and of course the Lincoln Memorial. Here again I noticed that Drew was drawn to the Vietnam wall and all the names of it. He was amazed that, that many had been killed. The Korean memorial also impacted him because the expressions of the faces of the men and their condition. Disappointed that we could not go up into the Washington Monument Drew thought it was neat how you could see the Lincoln memorial, the Capital, the White House and WW2 memorials from that one spot. He couldn’t get over how tall it was and the construction of it.
Time for the White House tour. You are now staged further from the White House than before. Drew really liked the different colored rooms and what special occasions were held in each. He did get to pet the Presidents dog and we got to see his handler. We didn’t get to pick anything from the garden however. Drew was impressed with the security at the White House the different stages you went through.
Finally the Smithsonian’s—Air museum at Dulles, the Air museum on the mall, and National History. Drew got to see everything from a dinosaur to the first plane that flew to the Discovery Shuttle. The Shuttle was amazing and the story on the titles is remarkable. We also got to see a group of WW2 veterans at Dulles and Drew and I got to talk to one of them. He was on Iwo Jima and all he would say is you can’t believe how bad it was.
Another important day for us was when we were able to sit in the Supreme Court just days before the Obamacare decision came down. The National Archives was interesting to Drew being able to see the actual documents, which our founding father wrote.
Was it a trip of a lifetime for Drew only as he matures will we know the answer to that? He was highly impressed with all of the war memorials and the detail given to them. I know his grandmother and I both enjoyed our time with him. What he actually took away from the experience also will remain to be seen.