Memorial Trip and Washington DC

There’s something about sunrise which is always opportunity-filled. When sunset hits, you think of what you left behind, another day is gone. Sunrises are filled with surprise. The day is ahead. There is opportunity. Something is coming.

It’s 5:40 am, everyone else is still asleep in the cabin which some friend, my wife and I rented for Memorial Day weekend. We came to Frankfort, Michigan on Crystal Lake. And this is what my iPhone says it looks like right now.

You don’t get this at sunset. Being alone, birds chirping, a few fish skimming the surface of the lake creating endless rings, and the adorning warm hues with some myst in between the woods.

Memorial Day is a festivity which is very important in the US. I cannot recollect there being an equivalent in Italy, or other European countries. Also known as Decoration Day, it is a Federal Holiday to remember and honor all the men and women who have died serving the US armed forces.

And this is what the Arlington Cemetery in Virginia, right outside Washington DC looks like. There are approximately 400,000 graves here, all of men and women who have died in the nation’s conflicts since the Civil War.

Arlington Cemetery, VA, 2018

I can’t say I’m in favor of War, by any stretch of the imagination. But I am human, and I cannot avoid thinking of the lives that have been lost or destroyed as a consequence of the wars, any war that is.

My wife and I recently visited Washington DC for a long weekend. The night before leaving we watched All the President’s Men to get in the mood. The next day we packed our bags. Headed for the airport, last minute parking maneuvers because like always we were running a little late, but also like always,we made our flight and got to our hotel in Washington without any issues.

The first night I already knew we were in for more than the average touristy trip. Even taxis signs had the #iwillmarch hashtag displayed on their displays for more gun controls. Maybe we should have gone a week earlier to join the march?

Nonetheless, on the Saturday after arriving I turned on GeoTag Photos 2 and started walking as if we were preparing for a month-long hiking trip. The day was warm and sunny and we just needed to stretch our legs out of the winter’s hibernation. We went up and down the Mall, from the Washington Memorial, all the way to Capitol Hill and back all the way to the Lincoln Memorial.

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Using GeoTag Photos 2 to create a GPX file which can be later used in Lightroom
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Cherry Blossoms around the Washington Memorial, Washington DC, Apr 2018
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Outside The Capitol, Washington DC, Apr 2018

We were also particularly lucky because we saw the Cherries blossom, which colored a few spots around the Washington Memorial just as much as they did the Tidal Basin. And unbeknownst to us, it was also the Blossom Kite Festival, where hundreds of kites, if not more, spotted the sky around Washington Memorial.

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Blossom Kite Festival, Washington DC, Apr 2018

We decide to tour Capitol Hill and after the great introductory video and the tour my wife and I began having our usual healthy exchange of political opinions. Me, a realist with a heart. My wife, an idealist at the heart.

We rent a bike and make our way back to the  extremity of the Mall where we had started the day to view the Tidal Basin where the Jefferson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorials are.

As well as the one that for me is the most impactful. Martin Lurther King’s Memorial.

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Martin Luther King Memorial, Washington DC, Apr 2018

From what appears to be a solid piece of stone a piece of it is detached, in front, and carved out stands Martin Luther King tall, prominent, firm.

And so are the many African Americans that admire it and fortunately, just as many non-African Americans.

His phrase on the memorial could not be more appropriate, just as many of his other sayings all etched out of the mountain which he broke himself loose from.

It was time to see the other Memorials, starting with the World War II one.

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World War II Memorial, Washington DC, Apr 2018

And here, while people were taking selfies, I decided to try to honor its significane with a more somber, yet striking visual image.

We continue on to viewing the Vietnam War Veterans Memorial, it’s entrance already with a scene we may have seen in movies like Full Metal Jacket.

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Vietnam Veterans War Memorial, Washington DC, Apr 2018

In the Memorial I saw a hand-written note that touched me.

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Vietnam Veterans War Memorial, Washington DC, Apr 2018

“Just because you don’t like the war doesn’t mean you have to hate the soldiers”, written by a child, with countless names engraved on the black granite wall above it.

This particular Memorial was also architecturally telling. Visitors could walk from either entrance of a boomerang-shaped structure and as you walked further you would go further down, as if to say “it just got worse”. The victims continued to increase, and then at a certain point the maximum point had been reached, and you’d walk out of it again.

With a tree of hope and the all-telling Washington Memorial in the background, and again, Names and more Names etched out on the wall.

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Vietnam Veterans War Memorial, Washington DC, Apr 2018

After viewing the Korean War Veterans Memorial opposite the Vietnam Veterans one, we headed to the Abraham Lincoln Memorial.

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Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC, Apr 2018

But it wasn’t until I saw this view that I was literally stomped.

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Outside the Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King delivered his famous “I have a Dream Speech”, Washington DC, Apr 2018

Can you imagine? Can you Dream?

The Great March on Washington, August 28, 1963. (Picture from Wikipedia)

After collecting my thoughts, and waking up from the Dream, we walked back, headed towards the hotel. We had been around for 12 hours straight, me, my camera… and my wife…. It was time to eat something and rest.

The light was just beautiful at that time, and without a tripod I improvised some other travel photos.

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Lincoln Memorial and the Lincoln Reflecting Pool, Washington DC, Apr 2018
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World War II Memorial, Washington DC, Apr 2018

Let’s also see the White House. Why not at night, just to see how white it really  is?

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The White House, Washington DC, Apr 2018

Day 2 and 3 were of continued discoveries, starting with the Newsuem (which will have its dedicate post), Georgetown, the Exorcist steps, the National Air and Space Museum, The National Gallery of Art, oysters, bike-riding, and of course, the Watergate Complex.

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I.M. Pei’s National Gallery, East Wing, Washington DC, Apr 2018
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Inside the National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC, Apr 2018
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Watergate Complex (coming to light), Washington DC, Apr 2018

I’m left to reflect on a trip which recollects many parts of the United State’s modern history. I’m left to ponder on how a few men, like Martin Luther King, can shape history with their words, and with the same tool, words, Presidents and politicians can grow the Arlington Cemetery. I’m left to question how Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) from the Washington Post uncovered one of the biggest scandals; one which would give the name to any coming scandal since then. I’m left to wonder.

It could be the caffeine running low. It could be that the sun is now getting warmer and people around are starting to wake up, ready to set up for the ensuing grilling sessions.

Or it could simply be the sheer curiosity of wondering when the next Martin Luther King is going to come grant us with just an ounce of his or her courage and vision.

Could it be Ben? Ha! Funny.

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Georgetown, Washington DC, Apr 2018

In the mean-time, I’ll enjoy “The Times They Are a Changing, by Bob Dylan.

For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.

Until Next Time,

Gio

P.S. From your host and ‘The Idealist’.  Thanks for reading.