Friday, November 11, 2011

D.C. Day 4 11.11.11

Itinerary: Wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, WWII monument, & Vietnam Veterans Memorial and visiting the other monuments & memorials on the Mall.

Wow – today is 11-11-11. The weather turned for the worse today. Not only is it bone-chilling cold, but it is incredibly windy which made today terrible. It’s that wind that no matter how many layers you have on (I had on 4 tops!) it went right through you. Brrrr!!!!!

I had read all about the Wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery and everything I read said to be there 30 minutes prior to the ceremony. We arrived at Arlington in plenty of time and saw lines of people standing by busses that were not moving. No one seemed to know what was going on, but everyone was in the lines. It was a big cluster. We waited…..and waited…. We asked to walk up to the Tomb but were told no. As the time drew nearer and nearer to 11:00, we realized we would not be able to reach it by the ceremony. Then we saw the Presidential motorcade come in through the gates and quickly after the busses started loading up people to go to the Tomb.

Waiting in Arlington National Cemetery

Sure enough, when we arrived up top, the Guards announced that the Tomb was shut down and no one was allowed to go up there because the President was inside. Damn, damn, double damn!!! I was downright pissed. And cold. We asked how much time it would be shut down but no one had an answer for us, 1 to 3 hours we were told. Ugh…

Listening at the whisper spot

I have been to the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier before and it was one of my favorite things to see, I really wanted Michael to experience it too but with the uncertainty of knowing how long we had to wait, we left. I was and am totally bummed we missed it. Next time, I will be there 2 hours before!!!

Arlington, the Women’s Memorial, & the Tomb of the Unknown

All of the roads were closed down outside of Arlington and as we were walking across the Potomac River, the presidential motorcade drove right by us! We stood and waved and Michael swears that some of them waved back. The President is in the inside limo.

We walked over to the Lincoln Monument, climbed the stairs & took in the view. Wow! The entire reflection pool has been ripped out & they are working on rebuilding it.

Lincoln Memorial

The view of the Capitol & Washington Monument from the Lincoln Memorial

We raced over to the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial as there was no way I was going to miss this one. There was an area that was cordoned off that was full of folding chairs and a podium at the front. And hundreds, thousands maybe, of veterans & their families. It was an awesome sight – seeing veterans hugging & greeting each other. We stood outside of the cordoned off area and just watched as the chairs filled. There was a band and group of singers who were singing songs relating to the Vietnam conflict – those that were guaranteed to bring a tear to your eye. But the best part was when they played in turn each Military branch’s song and asked the crowd to stand when theirs was played. They started out with the Coast Guard and a handful stood, then went on to the Air Force and again, a handful stood. Next was the Navy and they played ‘Anchors Aweigh’ and a larger handful stood. Then the Marines and more stood to a chorus of ‘hooah’s’. And finally the Army, which was a majority. It still brings a tear to my eyes just thinking of it. The pride was evident without a word being said.

Vietnam Veterans Ceremony 11-11-11

Vietnam Veterans Ceremony 11-11-11

The ceremony was fascinating but I was freezing cold and we stayed for about 90% of it before heading out. It was an emotional experience and I’m glad I went. I thank all veterans for their service.

Because it was so cold & windy we pretty much zoomed by the remaining memorials, stopping for enough time to snap a couple photos and zoom to the next one. We saw the Korean War Memorial, one I particularly liked with 19 soldiers walking through a jungle setting and a reflection wall which symbolize the 38th parallel.

Korean War Memorial

The WWII Memorial, that my Grandpa just got to see a couple weeks ago. It was really gorgeous and the backdrop couldn’t have been any prettier.

The WWII Memorial in Washington DC

Wreaths were at all the memorials. This photo is of the wreaths and the gold stars, each one representing 1,000 soldiers that were killed in WWII – over 405,399 service personnel. Wow.

Wreaths & WWII Memorial in Washington DC

After visiting all of the memorials, we were finished – exhausted, cold, & ready to be done for the day. We jumped back on the Metro & went back to our campground to relax.

The Metro in D.C.

Greenbelt Campground in Maryland

D.C. has been amazing and there is so much we still haven’t seen. But it’ll have to wait until the next trip. We’re headed to Virginia tomorrow and are going to spend some time with my Aunt & Uncle and visit Michael’s step-sister near Virginia Beach, yeah! :-)

More to follow…


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