Recently Bill and I took a trip to Washington, D.C. Yes, June is a hot month but our few days there enjoyed a really cooled down temp. And, yes, Washington is overrun with tourist during the summer, including large groups of young folks — but then it is a big place and the points of interest are spread out and the young folks were generally well behaved and thoughtful at the many sites of interest.
The reason for our visit, at this time, was to attend a memorial service for my brother who died several months earlier at the age of 92 and several years into severe Alzheimer’s. This memorial service was at Arlington National Cemetery.
This service for a Navy officer who had spent time on board a ship in the Pacific during most of World War II was more than could be asked for. The attention to detail, the staff and service men associated with Arlington were beyond expectations. Their kind words and apparent understanding of a family’s needs were more than gracious.
Of course, the ceremony itself with the attendance of Navy personnel providing escort and handling the flag, the honor guard with the 21-gun salute, the chaplain and the “Arlington Lady” who accompanied the family throughout the ceremony were of the caliber that honors those who have served their country.
Beyond the ceremony, just to be there and look out at those acres and acres of white headstones is a scene that will make you stop and think about why. Then you have to stop and thank God for all of their willingness to serve the cause of freedom.
Attending a memorial service or funeral is not on most of our list of “want to do,” but if you ever have an opportunity to attend one of these services at Arlington may I encourage you to do so. You’ll come away with a new respect for what freedom has cost our country over the years.
We were pleased to have daughter Carol and her family (Jim and Anna Lee) with us on the trip. We did other good things that I’ll only mention in passing.
The Pentagon Memorial, a stirring place … did you know that the plane that crashed into the building had several children … there were three members of one family. Look this memorial up and learn symbolism of how it is created.
Mount Vernon: the home of our first president that is now owned and operated by the Mount Vernon Ladies (a non-profit). It is an interesting place. The ladies have done a good job with the restoration and bring to life the life of our first president. Much of the information centers around the fact that this was a man that now only knew how to fight our first war successfully but was also one who developed many novel and “before their time” ideas to make his large farm run more efficiently. It can be said that George Washington was a smart man.
The National Cathedral: The guide we had there made it more than interesting. The 83 years it took to build it produced a magnificent cathedral. It’s a great deal more than this south Georgia lady that grew up in Baptist churches could imagine. Yes, it is worth the time and effort to see.
Smithsonian Museums: we only scratched the surface in couple of them, but did see the restored flag that flew in battle at the time of writing of the Star Spangled Banner. The museums offer so much no matter how much or how little time you have to tour them.
The monuments on the mall: these are always worth the trip. They reflect so much of our history, and it’s great to see that the large area of the Mall has been kept wide open so that one can easily walk among the monuments.
And last, and one might say least, Georgetown Cupcakes: if you don’t follow the cooking shows on TV you may not be familiar with this (I don’t follow these shows but had heard of it). It seems a couple of sisters are making their fortune making cupcakes in Georgetown (used to be DC Cupcakes). It took Carol and Anna Lee standing in line for close to an hour, and this was at the end of the day, to purchase cupcakes from the selection of about three dozen different ones.
Of all of these sites the only one that charged an admission was Mount Vernon, but it does not receive any government money and the funds are used for what must be an enormous budget to keep the place going. It’s worth the ticket price. So once you get to Washington your costs can be pretty much held to food and lodging, which you choose what you are willing to spend … and, no, it’s not cheap.
So, I recommend that you save your change and dollars and make plans to visit the nation’s capital. Especially if you have the youngest in your family, old enough to travel easily, and even take the unwilling teenagers. It’s a history lesson to learn easily and will stay with the young folks for a long time.