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Sunday
Jun282009

A long walk around DC

My Sunday morning and afternoon here at NECC in DC were free of obligations, so I took a good long walk. Washington is one of my favorite cities, especially for people watching. Summer dresses on young women are better than flowers. Of course there are plenty of weeds as well - beer-gutted tourists wearing t-shirts, shorts and sandals with athletic socks.

Anyway, from my hotel near Logan Circle, i wandered down 15th Street to Lafayette Park, past the White House, and to the Vietnam War Memorial. After climbing the step to the great Lincoln Monument, I swung by the Korean War Memorial, and then through the FDR site, to the Jefferson Monument, and back up to the Mall, stopping at the new United States History Museum and back to the hotel. The ramble took about four hours, with stops. It was a cloudy day with a nice breeze and before about noon the crowds weren't bad.

I have three favorite places I try to visit each time I come to DC. The first is the statue dedicated to the women who served in Vietnam. Easy to miss, hidden in a small grove of trees some 50 yards from the stark wall of the big memorial for that conflict, the grouping of four figures - three nurses and a wounded solider are a study in support and compassion. I visit this place and think of the service my aunt gave as an Air Force nurse during Vietnam, flying Air Evac missions from Vietnam to the Philippines to Hawaii.

I am always haunted by the haunted, fearful faces of the war giants striding up some unnamed mountain in Korea. I always look for my dad's face in the photo engraved portraits along the black wall.

And finally, I am always taken by the statue of FDR that has his Scottie dog Fala displayed prominently beside him. Sure, the words chisled on the walls are his; but the dog says more.

We should always be reminded that history is constructed of real people - grieving nurses, straining soldiers, and presidents who love dogs.

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Reader Comments (5)

Thank you to your Aunt and Dad for their service. My brother-in-law was wounded in Viet Nam. Who knows...maybe she helped him. I've made that same trip past those memorials many times. If anyone at NECC is reading your blog, I urge them to take the time to see these memorials. It is worth the trip. You can see so much. The World War II memorial is close by, too. Be advised that it is an emotional trip.

June 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJanice

I will be in Washington DC next week, for a Library of Congress summer institute I am lucky enough to attend. I too love to walk the memorials, and love the ones you mentioned. The Korean War memorial is deeply moving, as you say you can see the terror of war there. My favorite is the Lincoln statute by Daniel Chester French ( I also love the Minuteman he did that is in Concord, MA). However, I do not understand your dislike of athletic socks and sandals. Well, I understand it, but really, don't you sympathize about those sore sore feet without socks? I have been known to carry a pair of socks in my purse.

June 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJoan Tracy

Hi Janice,

The WWII monument always leaves me a little cold, I guess. Too formal and lacking the humanity of the others. But to each his own and still well worth seeing.

Thanks for the comment,

Doug

Hi Joan,

I like the Lincoln monument too, but everytime I see it I can't help but remember the final scene of It's a Mad. Mad. Mad World with one character landing in Lincoln's lap!

I think the "rule" is sandals, no socks; tennies, yes socks. But I am the LAST person you want giving fashion advice.

Thanks for the comment and have fun in DC!

Doug

July 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

Doug,
The next time you get the chance to be in DC, check out the memorials at night, it is a whole different experience. I think it might even change your mind about the World War II Memorial. Oh, and while you're at FDR, rub Fala's nose for luck.

July 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBeth O'Connor

Good suggestions, Beth. Thanks.

Doug

July 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

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