Ironically it seems lately the only chance I get to be a tourist is when I travel to places on business. Last week I attended the College Media Conference in Washington, D.C. I was delighted to see that the conference was being held at a hotel on 16th Street Northwest which was only a couple of blocks away from Pennsylvania Ave. I lived in D.C. before, during, and after 9/11 and love going back there any chance I get.
It was inspiring to be back in D.C. I truly miss living there. I never get tired of visiting the monuments when I am there. Funny, when I lived there, I never really visited them unless I had visitors in from out-of-town, but for me, after experiencing 9/11 the monuments seem to represent resilience. Even though it has been almost 15 years since the attacks, to me it seemed like just yesterday. Those wonderful monuments represent our strength as a nation.
A colleague and I went to the Mall to see the monuments at dusk. They are truly majestic at the time of day when the sun is setting. It was good to see the Washington Monument open and repaired after the earthquake damaged it a few years ago. The monument is surrounded by 50 flags representing the 50 states. On Sunday, there was a breeze so they all were waving in the wind. I could see the Capitol still being renovated with scaffolding on one side and on the other I could see the WWII Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial off in the distance. The Washington Monument is in the Center of D.C. and memorializes and honors our nation’s first president, George Washington. The Mall as a whole is part of the National Park Service, which is celebrating its100th year. Moving down the mall towards the Lincoln Memorial, we went past the World War II Memorial which was opened in 2004 to honor the 16 million members of the Armed Forces and the more than 400,000 who lost their lives during that war.
We took the Reflecting Pool route to the Lincoln Memorial, which was complete with baby ducks and their mom. The sun was continuing to set as we moved toward the Lincoln Memorial, which created a beautiful direct view of the Washington Monument and Capitol Building down the Mall. The sunset on Sunday was just gorgeous One of my favorite things has always been to climb the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial and turn around to see the sun’s reflection off of the monuments. It’s inspiring for me to visit this memorial because of all its history. According to the National Park Service website, the land on which the Lincoln Memorial sits did not exist until the Army Corp of Engineers deepened the Potomac River in the late 1800’s. The area was then used for the construction of the memorial. It was built to memorialize the 16th President and his leadership in saving the U.S. There are 36 columns around the building to represent the 36 states in the union at the tine of Lincoln’s death. On the steps of this memorial is where Martin Luther King gave his “I have a dream” speech and the very spot where he stood is etched into the steps. One can take a virtual tour here.
Leaving the Lincoln Memorial, we went to the Vietnam Memorial, which to me is probably one the most haunting of the monuments, It contains the names of the service members who died and those who are missing. When visiting the wall one cannot help, but be a little emotional. The city I currently live in is bringing a replica of the Wall to display Jul 6-10.
On our way back to the hotel we passed the White House with lights brightly reflecting on it. Moving through Lafayette Park, I could see Saint John’s Episcopal Church (the President’s Church) just north of the park and it lights were also shining brightly I remember watching TV and seeing the elected presidents and their families walking to the church on Inauguration Day,
No matter what our political views are we cannot help but be in awe and inspired by the sites and history of this city. It was fun being in D.C. again, even if only for a brief moment.