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A Tour of Our Nation’s Capital

Much more impressive than expected

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The World War II Memorial

The World War II Memorial

Henry Johnson

Henry Johnson

The World War II Memorial

Henry Johnson, Contributor

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Recently (March 19 to 23), I took a trip to Washington D.C. to visit family. At first, this trip was meant to be more of a social gathering, but I honestly wanted to visit some of the sights that Washington has to offer. I was well aware that Washington holds some of the most influential and historic monuments and artifacts in the entire world, but I didn’t know the scale of them. At first, I thought the Smithsonian Museum would be a quick visit, in and out within an hour to learn a bit about past occurrences. The monuments would be a few glorified plaques larger than normal to commemorate the fallen, and show the real American pride. Let me tell you, my assumptions were terribly wrong.

Upon arriving. I was surprised at the condition of the “downtown” areas. They looked like any other motel and apartment filled neighborhood, full of small time entrepreneurs and college students. But, conditions would change as we made our way into the city. Transportation mainly consisted of either walking, using the metro (which is very nice compared to Boston’s), or hailing a taxi; all of the normal city rules applied.

Each museum offered more interesting facts than the last, and I am happy I saw all of them.”

— Henry Johnson

But, the real fun began as we got into the business district. The buildings were bigger and more impressive than anything I had ever seen. The average building must have been about 12 stories, and it began to look like a true capital to me. One building particularly stood out. The Eisenhower building, which I didn’t know existed before, was the most breathtaking building I have ever seen. It was massive up close, with architecture reminiscent of Victorian England. It stretches for almost an entire street.

When I got to the White House, I thought, “that’s it?” It wasn’t nearly as impressive as the Eisenhower Building. But, despite that first impression, I found that Washington is everything one would expect from the nation’s capital. My expectations were not disappointed after seeing all it had to offer.

Like I said, the trip was more of a casual family visit, but we did end up seeing many museums and monuments. The first thing we saw was the Washington Monument, and it was enormous. You can literally see it from anywhere in the city, because it towers over everything. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like climbing its 897 steps, so I didn’t see the view from the top. But, the monument itself was stunning.

Next, we went to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. It was here that I had a sort of epiphany. We have all learned about the Colonies, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and everything that led up to America being as united and free as it is today. Well, as I was browsing through the exhibits, I realized something that I knew in the back of my head, but never really made a connection until now. Almost every single exhibit included something about Boston. I thought how lucky I was to live right near some of the most important American history ever.

To everyone reading this from Abington and nearby: be thankful for where you live. Your history class could not be any closer. I knew something about almost every exhibit. That’s not to say students in California don’t learn about the same things, but when we learn something about Plymouth Rock, we can say “I know exactly where that is!” If there is anything to take away from this article, it is to be thankful that we can relate so well to our history lessons.

The Natural History and Air and Space Museums, were exactly what I expected. I would have appreciated them more if I was a science person, but unfortunately I am not. They weren’t any less amazing, featuring interactive experiments that allowed you to see how things work firsthand. Each museum offered more interesting facts than the last, and I am happy I saw all of them. I suggest you do the same.

Next, we went to see the classic Lincoln Memorial, which wasn’t that memorable since the Reflecting Pool was drained for the winter. After we went to the World War II Memorial, which at first I thought would be a wall with names like the Vietnam Memorial, but once again I was wrong. The World War II Memorial has to be one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in my life; I will never forget the sight of it. Each American state and territory had its own pillar surrounding the center, and each pillar had its own wreath to honor those who were lost from those places. On either end were two main obelisks, to signify the Pacific and Atlantic ends of America, and in the center was a large pool with two fountains on either end. It was easily my favorite memorial and made me thankful to live in our country.

We finally wrapped up our trip with the Vietnam memorial, which actually is a wall with names. It sounds bland on paper, but this is definitely a “you have to be there to feel it” memorial. Walking down the path that seemed like it took years to complete, each name I read made my legs feel heavier and heavier, while I filled to the brim in sadness and pity. The wall is truly menacing up close, and the sheer amount of names tore away at me. Once again I was extremely thankful to live in our country.

The Vietnam Memorial

Henry Johnson
The Vietnam Memorial

This trip was one of the most interesting things I have ever done; I will never forgot anything that I experienced during those days. The museums held more than I had ever thought. The buildings and monuments to honor the fallen were honestly the most amazing I have ever seen, and I will never look at war the same again after seeing the casualties from it. I would recommend making this trip to anyone in the United States, because it is so worth it to learn about the country, and see to what ends we will go to give recognition to those who deserve it, those who fought for our freedom. So please, for my sake, if you have not visited Washington D.C. yet, plan on it, because my description definitely did not cover everything; you need to see it yourself to believe it.

 

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A Tour of Our Nation’s Capital