There’s nothing like learning about America than a visit to Washington DC! So… we took our German Exchange Student, Lara, and our daughter, Brittany, to see DC for the first time! And finally… I am caught up with work and ready to Blog about the 9-day trip to both DC and New York City!
Let’s begin with DC. Another Blog will come soon about New York.
A 4-1/2 hour flight straight from Phoenix to DC and a 3-hour time difference. We were picked up at Dulles Airport by Anna, the girlfriend of our good friend, Troy. She’s from Siberia and has been in America for 10 years. Lara had been in America for almost 10 weeks. We knew there would be some interesting comparisons and conversation while we stayed at their home… and there certainly was! From language to foods to climate to adjusting…Lara and Anna had an automatic bond!
After a 45-minute drive into DC on it’s confusing roads… our first stop was the White House. To Lara and Brittany, it was like something out of a movie! They said it was so much bigger than they imagined. Standing behind a rod-iron fence, protected by police all around us, the girls snapped a lot of pictures as proof that they were there!
Next, a stroll past the Washington Monument soaring into the blue sky, surrounded by grassy fields with people relaxing or playing a friendly game of football. The Monument is a tribute to George Washington’s military leadership from 1775-1783 during the American Revolution. Weighing 81,120 tons, the Monument stands 555-feet tall. The walls range in thickness from 15-feet at the base to 18-inches at the upper shaft. There are 896 steps surrounding an elevator which takes visitors to the observation level, where they can gaze over the city. However, the Monument is closed for now while being examined for cracks and flaws since the August 2011 DC Earthquake that rattled the historic city. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/23/washington-dc-earthquake-2011_n_934244.html
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History was a MUST SEE on the trip! With Lara required to take American History in school while she is here, and our struggle explaining some terms… we hoped this would clear up any questions. And I think it did! The museum is HUGE! http://americanhistory.si.edu/ Upon entering was a display about The Flag titled ‘The Star Spangled Banner”.
Funny…the week prior to us leaving on our trip, Lara had to learn the first stanza of the National Anthem. It was the first room in the museum that we explored…and I could hear Lara singing the first stanza as we walked through!
Other areas of the museum also struck a cord with Lara! The creation of the first colonies, the Red Coats, the Stamp Act, Slavery and the Declaration of Independence! I kept saying to Lara, “Your American History teacher will be so proud to see that you were here! I think you deserve extra credit for witnessing his class in person!” (I’ll keep you posted if that actually worked out for her!)
From the museum, we walked the “National Mall” to see several other monuments and memorials. The World War II Memorial was one of my favorites! Statues and medallions of each state surrounding a large fountain that hundreds of people were admiring. The Memorial honors the 16-million who served in the U.S. Armed Forces, the more than 400,000 who died, and all who supported the war effort from home. Lara and Brittany kept busy capturing the medallions of different states with their cameras and enjoyed the sound of the fountains. A walk to the west end of the “Mall” was peaceful along a tree-lined path of West Potomac Park that paralleled the reflection pool between the World War II Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. The only disappointment… the reflecting pool is under construction. It wasn’t as beautiful as pictures portray but we understand that renovations need to be made.
Before reaching the Lincoln Memorial, we stopped at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. So emotional, so personal, so many names lined along a marble wall. 58,272 names are listed. And we had a mission while we were there. My friend, Nancy, had asked me to get a rubbing of her Great Uncle’s name.
With help from a volunteer, we found it on Wall 19. We placed the paper on the wall and ran our pencil across his name. We knew it would hold a special place in Nancy’s heart… and that of her family. We were honored to honor his name… and it made the visit to the wall so much more personal.
Our final stop… the Lincoln Memorial. It stands 190 feet long, 119 feet wide, and almost 100 feet high. It is surrounded by 38 columns… one for each of the 36 states in the Union at the time of Lincoln’s death. The stairs outside are filled with tourists. Inside, Lincoln’s statue 19 feet high and 175 tons… and the carved inscriptions of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address and his Gettysburg Address.
After hours of walking, it was time to head back to Troy’s home…but not before a stop at a local restaurant…. and a very special treat! The server started to ask where we were from. The conversation included the fact that Lara is from Germany. That’s when he ran to get a co-worker… a young German man who has been in America just 3 years! What a small world! Talking between the two Germans started immediately! Lara felt so comfortable! And it was fun for us to listen to them and to his thoughts about being in America and his experiences here! He talked to us throughout our meal…and we didn’t mind one bit!
the Blog covers Day 3 in Washington DC… which was Brittany’s 15th Birthday. AND… included a very rare trip INSIDE the Library of Congress, a stop at the Spy Museum and… of course… a shopping adventure inside a 4-Story FOREVER 21 store!
The girls were in heaven!!!
More Photos below: