August 3-4, 2014, Washington, DC- No sooner had I landed in Phoenix on July 7, than I received an e-mail that my Father-in-Law’s interment at Arlington National Cemetery would be August 4. It didn’t take long for my airline and hotel reservations to be made, and a budget drawn up for the four days I’d be gone.
I used to live at Fort Myer, VA, in the days when I was an Army postal cerk. I was always challenged by the Third Infantry sentry at North Gate, to tidy up this wrinkle or straighten that fatigue cap. They never liked my hair, which was understandable, since none of them ever got to have any.
Pop was laid to rest in Arlington, on schedule-actually, three months posthumously, but it was a scheduling issue, and the ceremony was dignified and befitting of his service. I don’t take photographs at funerals. I did, however, have the waiter at Sky Lounge, Doubletree Crystal City, take a couple of family photos at our Sunday night dinner. BIL (in ball cap) pronounced the photo useless, but hey, I can see his smiling face, just fine.
Earlier in the day, I meandered around Washington, DC, visiting a few old haunts from the Capitol grounds to mid-Pennsylvania Avenue to the southern edge of the National Mall. Here are a few of the scenes, which I found preserved on a different SIM card than the one I thought I’d used.
The Capitol is closed on Sunday, but the grounds are worth a visit, in and of themselves. The Empty Edifice does look grand from the outside, and across a Reflecting Pool.
Here a few other views from the south lawn.
Then, I went around to the north side.
In light of recent events at the White House, this barrier from 2001 seems more prudent than ever. Of course, the Capitol is not exactly frenetic with activity right now.
I spent some time at the United States Botanic Garden, the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithson Castle, and along the National Mall. The Garden will be the topic of an ‘appendix”,next post. At the American Indian facility, I focused on the Indians of Central America. I had read about Minor Keith and United Fruit Company, and the sacrifices forced on the indigenous people of Guatemala. Ironically, Keith’s smiling face is featured in an exhibit on “Benefactors of the Smithsonian”. So, at least some of his money went into preserving the very culture he saw fit to plow under. Below, is the entrance to the building.
Here is an homage to those instances when Europeans and Native Americans got along. Since I have ancestors on both sides of that fence, I only wish the Europeans had been a bit less hasty in seeking “assimilation” of the indigenous folks.
A second spot I visited briefly was Smithson Castle, the original facility of the Smithsonian Institution, now a Visitor Center for the entire complex.
Washington is second to none, with its gardens. The verdure outside the Castle is a prime example.
I paid my respects at the World War II Memorial, especially important, given the circumstances of my visit.
Constitution Garden, a misnomer at present, seemed to be calling to Congress to address its condition.
I paid my respects, privately, at the Vietnam Memorial Wall, then went by the Korean War Memorial (below).
A good long-term remedy to constant warfare is a proper education. Washington has had some good schools, and some mediocre. This was the first public school in the nation’s capital.
On July 4, 2007, Penny and I had the bright idea of taking our son to the National Mall, and hopefully viewing the fireworks. The weather was horrible, the Mall was evacuated, and in trying to get my wheelchair-bound wife out of the rain, I met a fair amount of resistance from “security” along Massachusetts Avenue. We finally found refuge, at the White House Visitor Center.
The last place I stopped in Washington, on August 3, was the DC Africa Festival. This year marked the third year of this lively event.
As is my wont, I will post two more pieces to this series: United States Botanic Garden and the Pentagon Memorial.