OK ,so a daily logging isn’t working so well. This has been a fantastic vacation so far, but with so much to see its bloody exhausting! So, this is going to be a kind of every-other-day or every time I feel energetic enough after walking around all day sort of series.
Day 3 didn’t start out so hot. After spending all day on Tuesday out in the sun and walking the monuments (a fantastic experience and a great start to the vacation), I woke up suffering from heat exhaustion and dehydration. After some fantastic bed-side care from my wonderful wife though and a quick nap I was ready to face the day.
On day 3 we planned on spending some time on Capitol Hill, but like I said, I was sick, so we’ve rescheduled that for next Monday the 3rd of September. Instead, we decided to make this a trip to the archives. First up was the Jefferson Library of Congress.
Jefferson Library of Congress
By far, the most ornate, most impressive building I’ve seen in Washington D.C. yet. This was an amazing and appropriate place for the largest collection of books in the world. The main reading room is absolutely awe inspiring. The massive rotunda with ceilings soaring 160 feet above the ground floor and thousands of reference books lining the alcoves along the walls it is an amazing thing to see. You cannot take photos in the reading room, so here’s a nice photo I found off of hobnobblog.com.
We were able to look into the room from one of the platforms with the pair of statues. The general public is welcome to study in the reading room and use the resources of the library, but you must be doing research on something and apply to be admitted. I’ve told A (an avid book reader) that she needs to pick something to research and try getting on the list 😉
The National Archives
After a quick stop at Union Station for lunch and some browsing around the shops, we took the metro over to the National Archives. The archives, while not as impressive as the Jefferson Library of Congress was a great stop as it houses the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States, Bill of Rights and even a copy of the Magna Carta. Faded as they were (and they were far more faded than I expected them to be), it was amazing to see these originals preserved and all that goes into keeping them preserved. One day these documents will go beyond all preservation though and it makes me wonder what that will be like. Without an original and merely copies, most of them digital, will that affect its interpretation, will there be modified forgeries? Without originals, how will authenticity be verified? How can the copy that authenticity may be checked against be verified? Kind of crazy to think that one day there will be entire generations that will have never had access to the actual originals.
Today was our trip to Arlington Cemetary. This was a pretty exciting trip for Adrienne and I as we had read On Hallowed Ground by Robert M. Poole (Check it out on Amazon, also available on Audible.com too). I highly recommend the read; there is a lot of fascinating history behind the Arlington Cemetery. For instance, did you know that the grounds originally belonged to Robert E. Lee, eventual general of the Confederate Army during the Civil War? The house was practically nicked from Lee after he went off to war by some, in my opinion, slimy and under-handed tax law that allowed the government to “legally” acquire the property from him. It became a cemetery because the quarter master Montgomery Meigs felt that Lee betrayed the Union (which he did) and wanted to make the property completely un-inhabitable by the Lees upon their eventual return at the end of the war. So, he began burying bodies in the rose garden, no more than 20 feet from the front door of the home.
Arlington was a pretty impressive site and it was inspiring to see how our country honors its dead. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is patrolled 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year (366 on leap years) by soldiers in full dress uniform, changing the guard every 30 minutes in the summer and every hours in the winter. The respect, precision and symbolism in every step, motion and turn made by the guards to protect the sanctity of the tomb from visitors and vandals spoke as true memorial to the sacrifice by the soldiers entombed at the entire cemetery, not just the unknowns represented at that specific tomb. Its truly a sight to see.
That’s it for days 3 and 4. Tomorrow we head to one of the sights I’ve been looking forward to seeing since I was a kid, the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. If we’re lucky, we’re going to try and schedule a trip out to the branch near Dulles where the Discovery has been retired to, but that’ll be later. I’ve decided to get photos curated after the trip, so I’ll get a few in here of our trip later, so don’t forget to check back then!