After arriving in the late afternoon, we started out at the Arlington Cemetery where it was hard to imagine how many people have died throughout the years, in defense of our country's freedom. Over 200,000 service men and women in this cemetery alone - rows and rows of small headstones as far as you could see. We were able to see the changing of the guards at the tomb of the unknown soldier, a somber must, if you ever go. Sorry these pictures didn't turn out so well.
A neat story: While leaving the cemetery, a gentleman came up and was trying to give us 2 tickets. We explained that we had 4 people, and he said, "just a minute my neice has 2 more tickets." Long story short, these people had 2-day tickets to ride the double-decker open-top tour bus all over D.C. They had used the 1st day and had to leave town and wanted to give us their tickets for the 2nd day ($32/each). We were so excited! As it turned out, the gentleman had been a marine paratrooper in World War II, so it was awesome to talk with him for a little bit and be able to thank someone first hand for what he had done for our country.
The next morning we took the double-decker guided bus tour all over D.C. - we all loved it! Even when we had to duck to keep from hitting head-on with tree branches! Definitely a extra unexpected blessing for us.
We had arranged to have a staff-led tour of the US Capitol that afternoon - really a once-in-a-life-time experience. Here's the ceiling of the rotunda:
The next morning we got up extra early to stand in line for tickets to go to the top of the Washington Memorial, and tour the Bureau of Engraving and Printing where our money is made. Both were really worth the wait!
We walked to and visited all of the different memorials there - Lincoln, Jefferson, World War II, Vietnam, Korean War, Theodore Roosevelt - all were inspiring, and I can't do justice here to describe my feelings as I read placques and contemplated all the events that have taken place over the years to create and preserve our great country.
We didn't want to come to D.C. and not see the actual documents that helped make everything happen. The National Archives was another treat. The documents are looking worse for the wear, but the lights are kept dim, and the air is very controlled with anti-pollutants & right temperature to help preserve them as long as possible.
We even made a quick trip to the scene of the crime where Andrew was born - right in D.C.:
One day we headed south a little ways to tour the National Marine Corps Museum. It was awe-inspiring too, and had a section for each war that had been fought. The displays in the front foyer were life-size and very life-like, even down to the skin on the soldier statues, which looked very real.
Some fun mixed in with all the sightseeing.....
We made sure we went to see the DC temple. It was just as majestic as I remembered from many years ago. We relaxed a little and watched a movie in the visitor's center before heading out to eat at a local place called Booeymonger's - fabulous philly cheesesteak sandwiches and fries! Loved the name - kept saying it after we had left.
On Sunday we visited Dave's old ward in Maryland which was nice. We spent that afternoon in Gettysburg, another somber, but very worthwhile tour.
We're standing on what is called the "high water mark" or Cemetery Ridge where the final hours of the battle were fought. It was near the end of the trip, and you can tell that the boys were all camera'd out!
We're so grateful we had this opportunity to go with Jordan and Andrew to view all these historic sites and feel of the strong patriotism of so many others before us. We owe so much to our forefathers! At church today we sang America the Beautiful and The Star Spangled Banner, and I couldn't help getting teary-eyed during both of them. I love my country and feel very blessed to enjoy so many freedoms in this great land. Thanks for a great trip, guys!