Thursday, January 26, 2017

Taking on the Outside Monuments last November.

On the last full day in DC, and with Wes still conferencing, I knew I needed to see the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the World War lI Memorial and the Vietnam Memorial.
And I needed to wear my seasoned walking shoes and just do it, tired feet or not!
White House in background, a perky tourist in the foreground. (Stick around to the last picture when she's not so perky and the weather did a complete turnaround.)  The first stop was the World War ll

Both of our fathers had served in this war; many veterans were visiting.  Thank you for your service.

Next stop:  The Lincoln Memorial. Climbing the stairs = 5 floors.  Just thought you'd like to know.

View of the Washington Monument from the Lincoln Memorial: no crowd estimations attempted here.

From here I walked to the Korean War Memorial.

My father had served in Korea.  I would've liked hearing him talk about it, but like so many others, he had few words on this experience.  I know he ended up with malaria due to his time there.

Next destination: the haunting Vietnam Memorial.

With thanks to the nurses who served in the war, too.

As Americans, let us never forget those who served in these wars.  Let us never lose our
desire for peace.

If you're ever in Washington DC, please try to visit these outdoor remembrances.

Fall is a great time to visit; just remember to dress in layered clothing and prepare for changes
in the weather!  By the end of this day, the temps had plummeted, the winds were gale-force and torrential rains were coming!

Maybe a prediction of things to come in January??

Monday, January 23, 2017

The National Museum of African American History and Culture last November.

Of all the places I wanted to visit on the Washigton DC trip, this was number one.  
It opened to the public on September 24, 2016; I tried to get online tickets beforehand to no avail. At our hotel, the desk personnel advised me to just show up at the museum three hours before it opened (and don't bother to do this on a Friday or weekend).  As one of the "hottest" free tickets in town, and part of the Smithsonian campus, I had high hopes to get inside and experience what others raved about.
And luck was certainly with me and I made it in! 


I honestly felt changed and challenged by everything I saw.

In most museums, the dwell time is 45 minutes to two hours. Not so in this museum.  With three floors on the Concourse levels pertaining to history from 1400 to 1968 and beyond, and four more floors above this with interactive gallery, sports, military, stage, musical, visual arts and theatre, it's mind-boggling on how to take it all in. And take it all in.

An unexpected exhibit tucked away where fewer museum goers (and school groups) were visiting was
one of my favorite gems:  the hats of Mae Reeves.

How well I remember a time when women wore hats to church and for dress-up occasions.
And how well Dorothy Mae Reeves will be remembered for her gumption in opening up her own millinery shop in the 1940s in Philadelphia and serving customers such as Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, and Marian Anderson.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Thomas Jefferson Building/Library of Congress last November.

Just a hop, skip and a jump - and an underground tunnel passageway - from the Capitol is this gem of a building.  Home to the Library of Congress collection and the largest library in the world, it houses materials in over 450 languages.  The good news is that this building is open to the public; the bad news is that the public can only request items through inter-library loan. However, if you are a "high ranking government official" you have check out privileges.

Let's "check it out" now:

Here are two views of the Main Reading Room (above).

The Great Hall is most impressive with its white marble, grand staircase and floor details.

Note the hanging banner here! Keep up the reading, America!!

It's interesting to note that this building houses a collection of Thomas Jefferson's books, some 2,000 of them. (See below.)  Originally he sold his collection of 6,487 books for $23,950 to the library, but fire destroyed about 2/3 of the collection.  This building was constructed from 1888-1894 and the Capitol was no longer the home for the collection after this.

Also interesting to note that the Thomas Jefferson Building houses the rough draft of the original Declaration of Independence and one of three original Gutenberg Bibles.

As one who worked in a library for most of my career, this building spoke to me about true gift of learning and never underestimating the power of education. It is my fervent hope that the right person is appointed for the Secretary of Education post. I'd like to say SShhh to this current nominee!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Capitol Building last November.

In November of 2016, Wes had a conference trip to Washington DC and I tagged along with
comfy walking shoes and a determination to see as much as possible in the time span of a little more than 4 days. In that time I walked about 31 miles!

Our hotel was very near to the Capitol Building and we were able to take a tour of this historic 
National Historic Landmark. Outside, the newly refurbished dome had just been released from its scaffolding while scaffolding of another magnitude was underway for January 20. I will purposefully not
go there right now - nor do I plan on tuning in to it to see this scaffolding completed.

Originally, visitors had to climb these stairs to get inside the building, and inaugurations were held on this East Front.  In 1981, Ronald Reagan changed all that with the switch to the West Front. In 2008, the new Visitor Center opened and these stairs are perhaps only climbed by Rocky Balboa wannabes these days.

The Capitol (original building) was completed in 1800; partial reconstruction was needed in 1814 due to a fire set by the British during the War of 1812. In 1850, two wings were added to each side - the South Wing for the House of Representatives and the North for the Senate. The Dome was also heightened 
and made more "wedding cake-like" between 1855 and 1866.

Once inside the Capitol building Visitor Center, we waited in line to get tickets for a tour along with a whole lotta energetic eight graders. We lucked out! As much as I love eighth graders we were not in a tour group with them.

Our tour guide was the best - she had been doing these tours for decades, and we certainly knew how she felt about the results of the presidential election that had just happened the week before. She's wearing the red jacket and here we are in the Capitol Rotunda.

Looking up from here, we see the Capitol Dome with "The Apotheosis of Washington" fresco.

Let's do some further looking around in the Capitol.

National Statuary Hall (above)

Hamilton, anyone?

This is where the post-inaugural luncheon takes place.

This large bust of Abraham Lincoln is located in the Capitol Crypt - where George Washington was supposed to be buried, but he opted out to "rest" at Mt. Vernon. A bit of trivia about this bust is that there is no left ear on Lincoln to symbolize his unfinished life.

Here's the statue of Rosa Parks in the National Statuary Hall installed in 2013. To the left, Frances E. Willard, an Illinoisan who was the first Dean of Women at Northwestern University as well as a suffragist, temperance reformer and educator. (Each state is allowed 2 statues to be displayed in the Capitol Building.)

The Capitol Building was beautiful and impressive.  

Next stop: Library of Congress building.  Wow!