Monday, October 20, 2014

Washington DC Trip - Humbled by the Graves, Memorials, and Monuments

There is something humbling and haunting about the silence in my heart when my eyes first see the white head stones. I don't know what to think, to feel. I am transported back to my 8th grade self, when I first felt this feeling. How can there be so many? What is the worth of this kind of loss? How in this age of brilliant endeavors, can we still go to War? My Questions haven't changed much as an adult. I realize that we must protect our own, and well as those who can not protect themselves, however walking these graves, the cost is sobering. 

I am humbled by their service. The honor guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider. Every Hour. Every Day. Every Year. I watch with hitched breath as every measured step, every exact movement, are carefully executed. This attention to detail, to self control, to honor is why our Military stands apart triumphantly. It is a powerful thing to witness.

This memorial is hallowed ground for our little traveling quartet, both of my grandfathers served in WWII. In the later years of my grandfather's life (my Mom's Dad), my parents were able to walk this ground with him. To witness the power of his memories, and the importance of a nation memorializing the lives and service of those who serve.

Ryan's father fought in Vietnam. My Dad had friends who served in one of the hardest wars our country has fought. This memorial is intense and plaguing.  I followed a woman who walked slowly dragging her fingers across the engraved names. Did she lose someone in this war? Was it her father, a brother, a friend? Was she mourning a physical death, or the death of a relationship due to the emotional injuries of this complicated conflict? 

We spent a few minutes reading through the causality lists for familiar names, and were thankful not to find any. 

I was taken by the faces of these men, looking back on the names of the fallen. I am humbled by their sacrifice.

The Korean War is one that I know very little about. This memorial is brilliantly human. The faces, the trees, the faces etched in marble. Another memorable reminder that Freedom isn't Free. 

We completed a long walking loop of the memorials and monuments and finished our day with an evening trolley tour of the same.

These monuments truly reflect the greatness of the leaders they represent. I am humbled by their vision, by their hope, by the change each of their lives made.

I am humbled.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Washington DC Trip - Mount Vernon

We started our trip to Mt. Vernon on Miss Christin, one of the Potomac Riverboat Company boats. Sitting on the top deck, we had incredible views, until we were bullied to the lower deck by the cold wind and smell of freshly popped popcorn. Popcorn is a cruel cruel master.   

Enjoying local history and sites as we traveled on the Potomac River, we arrived at the dock of Mount Vernon. I was completely overwhelmed by the beauty we found there.  There was something so very organic about the grounds, mixed with a sense of order.

Walking to the mansion, surrounded by fall color, is breathtaking. This California girl, found herself having a love affair with the fall foliage, and her boots of course!

The mansion itself is a wonderful expression of the man who had such vision for our country, as well as his own home. As we walked the home I pondered the busyness that would have been life at Mount Vernon, against my own. I evaluated my priorities, especially my thought life realizing that greatness like this doesn't come from considering the impact of a "Real New Jersey Housewife" going to jail or who Honey Boo's Mother is dating. Greatness comes from deliberate thought and focus. It's a sobering thought, realizing the impact of one life on our country.

Ryan and I spent a few moments reflecting under a large oak tree, when he said "I am proud to be an American in a time when it doesn't seem to matter". This insight impacted my heart,  I am proud of the country I call my own. Proud of the man who was our first President. Proud of my grandfathers who fought for this country, and the men in our families that have served in generations since. I am proud of the Red, White, and Blue even if it is a time where that matters, because in our freedom every voice counts.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Washington DC Trip - Alexandria Virginia

Alexandria offers a free trolley down King Street (the town's main drag)

We had lots of silly conversation while we rode the trolley! Sweet Memories as we toured the town.

 Found out about Bilbo Baggins Global Cafe on a advertisement from our hotel. Everything was pretty yummy, except the Lobster Bisque (It was a bit too salty). My burger was simply amazing, two patties on a grilled English muffin! Good stuff! We also experimented with different beers or ciders in my case. They offer quite the variety of beers from around the globe for such a small place!

The Queen, found her street! Will she ever come home?

I just loved this cobble stone street. I don't think I have ever seen anything like it. As one of the oldest  cities in the area, I am sure these stones could tell tales!

Totally loved these gas lamps!

We visited the Lyceum. It was a hospital in the civil war and is now a museum for the city of Alexandria. Really amazing history happened here. I find myself pondering how numb we are to war in our society today. When you read the stories and see the artifacts, I walk away changed.

After a day of travel yesterday, and a ton of walking today, Ryan's back started acting up tremendously.  We navigated two metro train lines to get into the Kaiser Urgent Care department at Union Station.
I wouldn't wish the Metro learning curve on anyone, especially not on a Saturday night when the love of your life is in extreme pain.

We are so thankful for our health care, especially the team at Kaiser in Washington DC. After a bit of a wait we were able to get Ryan's back pain resolved. He should be good the rest of our trip!

My Mom is my hero. She ordered us pizza and had ice and drinks ready for us when we returned from our night time adventure to Urgent Care. It completely hit the spot, and we were so very blessed by her thoughtfulness! 

The second day of our trip has left us a little weary, but looking forward to tomorrow when we visit Mt. Vernon! 

Stay tuned!