Stop number two in the Mid Atlantic region was Washington D.C., our nation's capital.
We had hoped to visit Philadelphia subsequent to our stay in New York, but strangely, Philly was booked solid. So we bypassed and went all the way to Washington D.C. in a single toll-ridden leap. I was secretly relieved to not be reentering Pennsylvania since I believe myself to be a fugitive there for skipping a toll booth (accidentally, of course) near Pittsburgh.
We stayed in Maryland just outside (but within earshot) of the Capital Beltway. This put us in good striking distance to DC-proper where I had not been to DC in about 25 years. We were in full tourist mode when we entered the city.
After an uneventful Metro ride, our first stop was the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Having carefully timed our visit to be between government shutdowns, the museum was open for our business. As became a theme for our DC tour, we were only able to scratch the surface before hunger, diapers, and sleep redirected our attention.
Next we strolled up the mall toward the Capitol. I was hoping to encounter a Senator or Representative to have words with, but alas, they seemed to have smelled me (or Tommy, did I mention the diapers?) coming and scurried away into their secret tunnels like legislative Fraggles. Despite the bright day, we did not even spot Boehner sunning on the Capitol lawn. We were further disappointed that the Library of Congress was closed to the public during our visit.
Much of our visit to DC was spent in the company of fantastic friends. Jane and Tommy played hard with their four new friends. Mom and dad were once again humbled by overwhelming generosity and brilliance of our long-time friends. Suffice that we are grateful.
On our last day in DC, we focused on the monuments. I had only vague recollections of visiting the Lincoln Monument in my childhood, so novelty abounded. Our path took us first to Lincoln, then Vietnam, Korea, MLK, FDR, and the [apparently new] WW2 memorials. The effect of these memorials was visceral.
Lincoln's second inaugural address is inscribed on the wall of his memorial. He offers recognition of the superbly horrifying condition of war while holding to his rationalizations of preservation of the Union and, artfully, abolishment of slavery. These powerful words serve their purpose of remembrance of the deep wound of the Civil War. You might want to read it.
The Vietnam War Memorial served as sad amplification of the futility, wrongness, and horror of war. Those names, too numerous to count, on their stark marble background reminds us of the individuals wasted. Each had a mother, a father, a childhood, a story, and a future. Each name is a life snuffed out by ostensibly "higher-order" decision making by old men just down the road from these memorials.
The Korean War Memorial did not have quite the same powerful effect, if only because I was distracted by the laser-etched faces in the granite wall. How did they do that?
Just when I was ready to barf from having cracked the revisionist placating veneer that these memorials put on war, we made our way to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.
And to hammer it home:
It is not enough to say, "We must not wage war." It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it. We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war, but on the positive affirmation of peace.
That we correctly honor someone so brilliantly advocating for peace and equality of humanity brought me a profound feeling of hope. It also allowed me and the family to continue on our tour of DC without me in a vomitous rage. Thanks Reverend Doctor. Now would be a good time to read the quotes from the memorial. On that high note, we did a quick drive-by of Obama's pad and departed the capital to continue our journey south.