Memorials in Virginia

Trip Start Dec 26, 2011
Trip End Dec 29, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Virginia
Wednesday, December 28, 2011

This morning was identical to yesterday's, except it took place an hour later - bit of a tardy start.  We packed snacks, which turned out to be a lifesaver, then made the short walk again to Union Station.  I finally got to appreciate the building's architecture in daylight as we went down into the Metro.

I've heard that DC's subway is one of the best in the world, and while the trains are clean and comfortable and the stations/tunnels are impressive, the ticket and pricing system is more than confusing.  There are also two entrances to each stop and we couldn't decide which one to go through before realizing they both went to the same place - there were no obvious signs.  I think I had an easier time with the German system!  But the ride itself was fine, and we were soon in Virginia. then at the Pentagon.

No photography was allowed anywhere on the Pentagon grounds except for in the Pentagon Memorial itself, and while I'm usually happy to ignore rules against photography, in this case I was happy to obey.  And the memorial is amazing, and very powerful.  It is very hard to describe with words or with photos, but I will do my best with the latter.

We made another powerful stop at Arlington National Cemetary.  On the walk up the road from the Metro stop we could see Robert E. Lee's yellow home way up on the hill.  Everyone buried there is a veteran or related to one.  The sight of all those tombs stretching over hills and even right up next to the parking lot really makes you think about the utter waste and pointlessness of war.  But I refuse to turn this into a political rant.  We went to the Kennedy Memorial, but I was honestly more interested in seeing Ted Kennedy's grave than JFK's.  I was disapointed by exactly how little his grave has compared to even Bobby's.  It looks like if you die tragically, they try to give your life more worth.  I disagree.

We also walked through Robert E. Lee's home, which is actually painted a whole range of warm colors and not just yellow.  (Arlington Cemetary is on the land that belonged to his estate.)  We also saw the ampitheatre, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (including the changing of the guard - a ceremony I've seen several times but never really gotten very excited about, although Mom liked it), and the memorials to the Challenger disaster, to the victims of the 1980 Iran Rescue Mission, and to Columbia Shuttle disaster.

While the day was sunny and at the Pentagon I didn't need a coat, Arlington Cemetary soon became extremely windy, cold, and crowded with people.  Soon, we were very hungry despite discreetly eating our snacks, and our feet were beginning to hurt, so we left the cemetary and made our way over the bridge back into DC.  There was a funeral procession across the bridge (apparently for a DC park officer killed on duty), with a salute of fire-ladders and an endless line of police cars from all over the country.  A local woman said that several roads were closed - which actually made it very easy for us to cross normally busy roads.  We crossed the bridge to continue our day in DC...
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