Discover America’s Memory Lane
January 30, 2012
I have always wondered what it was like in Washington, D.C. To walk along the streets where American history surrounds you at every turn would be a dream come true. Recently, when I had the opportunity to travel back east, I was not disappointed, only awed and proud of our heritage that is preserved there. It is truly a breath-taking place and well worth everyone’s time to explore and experience.
Arriving in the BIG city was an adventure in itself, as I stayed in a motel outside the downtown area and thus, took the underground metro into D.C. What a wild, yet great mode of travel for the thousands of people who use it everyday. This ranch wife soon discovered that learning which line to travel and more importantly, which stop to get off of, was every bit as daunting as a run-away wagon out on the trails. You have to hang on, keep focused and hopefully you can get everything lined out. Thank goodness for the commuters who took pity on me and helped navigate my travels so I didn’t end up in who-knows-where.
My first glimpse of D.C. was like a movie scene … the sight slowly growing before my eyes as I walked up out of the Metro station and onto the street. White marble buildings and manicured tree lined streets, bustling with taxis and people spread out in every direction. Rows of bicycles in rakes filled one large area and buses, both tour and transit, rumbled in and out of the station driveway. Everywhere I looked, there was a feel of “busy-ness,” so I took a deep breath, thanked my lucky stars I was really here and joined the right hand flow of people up the street.
It wasn’t long until I arrived at the National Postal Museum. Here you can discover the wonderful history of the mail service and how it has played a major role in our country. The main hall is a large, multi-storied, open area, filled with light from windows above. Looking up, suspended like a giant toy, I saw one of the first motorized mail planes, bi-wings and tail made of thin paper on a wooden frame. Hanging beside it was a more modern small mail plane. Beneath these is a genuine mail stagecoach, pulled by four horses, running up a wooden ramp (pretty impressive). Several mail wagons and trucks are on display, too, completing the depiction of the different modes by which mail was delivered. Interactive displays along the walls invite the visitor to explore, before entering the museum’s historical exhibits. It is a fascinating place and also the home of the busy Capitol Street Post Office.
Next, I headed towards the U.S. Capitol and stopped on the grassy area in front, gazing up at the American flag flying below it’s shining white dome. Lines of limos curved around the driveway and one of the park’s people told me some international dignitaries were arriving. Continuing onward, I walked past historic buildings, famous hotels, long avenues, and finally the gates to the White House. Long lines of people waiting to tour the White House ran down the street. If you plan to take the tour, do make your reservations far ahead and plan extra time that day. Keep in mind there are also restrictions on what you can/cannot take with you during the tour.
About the time I was silently thanking my cousin for telling me to wear comfortable shoes for walking, I saw the top of the Washington Monument peeking above the trees. Like a shining marble tower rising out of the grass mall, its base is ringed with flag poles, American flags snapping in the breeze. From there I could see the front of the White House across the lawns and famous fountain. I next explored the Memorial of the World War, noting that people, even families with children, were quiet and thoughtful while reading the inscriptions on the wreathed marble columns that ringed its fountain.
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Further on, I saw the Lincoln Memorial, it’s image mirrored perfectly in the water of the long Reflecting Pool. This was someplace I had wanted to visit since I was young. It is a magnificent building, a crown jewel on the famous historic mall. Climbing the white marble steps, I entered the towering hall and silently stood before the huge statue of President Lincoln. He is seated, in fine vest and high collar, his long coat under him. His hands rest on the arms of the chair, left hand folded closed. His hair is full and just slightly windblown, as if to soften the lines on his solemn and noble face. He gazes out at the world with eyes that seem to carry the memories of time within them. I was awed and admit I shed a tear, just being there. This is a place one can come and feel proud to be an American. Inscribed above the statue are the words:
In this temple
As in the hearts of the people
For whom he saved the union
The memory of Abraham Lincoln
Is enshrined forever.
To be continued …