We were blessed to be given guest passes to go to Washington D.C., and although I was very excited to go (my first time!) and excited to see my dear friend Debbie in her new-ish hometown, I had no idea what I was in for! It was so very amazing, some of it there are no words for. There is no way that any of these pictures will capture what we saw with our own eyes. I think it is a place every person should see, if at all possible. On day 2, Brenna said, "In 2 days I understand more about history than I understood all year!" I'm very much not a history buff. History always seemed like a string of dates I had to memorize, never really connected with it. But now? Fascinated. Humbled. Awed.
The deal with "guest passes" for the airlines is that you fly stand-by. We were extraordinarily blessed to get out (all 5 of us!) on the first flight we listed for. Off we went, for our great adventure!
We began at a place I had high on my list to see: Georgetown Cupcakes! We went to the less-congested Bethesda branch, and it was amazing. A couple gals in line let us in on a very happy surprise: if you follow them on facebook or twitter, they post a daily "secret flavor". If you go in an ask for that flavor, it's yours for free! Well, delight of all delights, that day the secret flavor was Chocolate Salted Caramel. Oh, yes.
can you see it? chocolate cupcake, caramel filling, salted caramel icing, caramel drizzle.
After our fill of cupcakes, we headed off to start touring. First stop was the Iwo Jima Memorial, also known as the Marine Corps War Memorial.
Our next stop was "Surfside" for lunch...YUM!
After being fueled and cooled, we headed out to see Arlington National Cemetery.
this is the tiniest sliver of the white gravestones. it was somber and humbling to view these perfectly aligned graves, row after row, in each direction.
these are the graves of President Kennedy, his wife, his stillborn baby and a baby that lived a couple days. if you look closely at the stone circle above the gravemarkers, you can see the eternal flame.
in the background you can see the Washington Monument. along the wall behind us is a series of well-known quotes by President Kennedy.
one of the moving parts of this, is that this sign, this cemetery, is respected. there are whispered conversations, quiet comments, but for the most part people walk through, taking pictures, reading signs, paying respects.
these older graves were fascinating to read. there was a time when there were no standardized headstones, like the rows of white ones in the earlier pictures. now there are sections of the cemetery where families can choose to have private headstones, as long as they fit within certain guidelines. but these older markers really are stunning to see.
this is inside Robert E. Lee's house at Arlington. it is being rennovated, so the furnishings were gone, but still fascinating to see. the guides there are incredibly knowledgable and do a great job of telling the stories that make this house come to life.
2 identical mantels in the main living were designed and purchased by Robert E. Lee himself!
beautiful replicas of the Civil War uniforms.
Robert E. Lee
Lee's handwritten farewell address, after his resignation.
this is looking out over Washington from the main living area of Lee's house.
this is a touching summation of how many of President Washington's artifacts were saved after the U.S. Army took over Arlington.
0ne of many sobering views.
this is the Memorial Amphitheater, all marble, dedication in 1920. they have 3 memorial services each year: on Memorial Day, Easter, and Veteran's Day. this view is the inside, on the other side of the center stage is the Tomb of the Unknown.
the ending of the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown. this ceremony is silent, respectful, and very moving.
the guard walks a precise cadence of 90 steps per minute. he takes 21 steps down the black mat you can see on the edge of the picture, turns and pauses for exactly 21 seconds facing East. he then turns and takes 21 steps the other direction. the "21" symbolizes the highest military honor, the 21-gun salute.
"Known But To God"
the front view of the Memorial Amphitheater, with The Tomb of the Unknown in front.
We toured 3 other Memorials this same day, but I'm too tired to keep going. More of day 1 another time!