And it darn near killed me. The first night we were there my right foot had an altercation with Heath’s suitcase and the little piggy that didn’t get any roast beef was swollen and purple and I could hardly walk the rest of the week. I don’t think I broke the bone but it might have been cracked, a week later it still hurts.
So anyway, we left Williamsburg Tuesday afternoon after visiting Jamestown and headed to Arlington where our hotel for the rest of the week was. The plan was to check in around 3 p.m.and head over to Arlington National Cemetery which was right near the hotel, do the bus tour and then go see the monuments along the mall. Google maps, however, decided we needed to take the scenic route and Mother Nature decided our car needed to be washed so we drove out of our way in the pouring rain and didn’t get to the hotel until 6. We had a nice dinner at a nearby Cajun place and called it a day. We also went to the nearest Metro station and got our cards. A very helpful employee was on hand for that. I asked if we could reload online and she said “No, don’t do that!” You can but it takes four-24 hours for the money to show up.
I had our vacation all planned out but the one thing I had no control over was the White House tour. When my family did this vacation in 1984 you couldn’t get advance tickets for the White House. You showed up at 7:30, got in line, hope there were tickets left when you got to the front of the line and if there was, the ticket had a time stamped on it. Now you have to make a request through your senators and representative (all three of them to be on the safe side, only we had no representative at the time) about three-six months ahead. About two weeks before your travel date they let you know the results. Tours are done from 7:30-1 p.m. Guess who was right back in line at the White House at 7:15 in the morning? Yep, our time was 7:30, we had to be there 15 minutes early and they came and fetched us around eight. It’s a self-guided tour now so not nearly as interesting. There is a Capitol Police officer in each room to make sure you don’t steal anything and to answer questions but you have to know what questions to ask.
So, we were up bright and early. OK. We were up early Wednesday morning. I was a little nervous about this because they make it sound like if they don’t like the looks of you you won’t get in. But security was pretty easy and the police officer checking bags asked me about my t-shirt.
Heath asked the officer about this and I’m glad he did. I’m sure I heard it 30 years ago, but who remembers. Presidential and First Lady portraits aren’t painted until after the person leaves office. (He said the Obamas should be up in about six months). Bobby Kennedy was the model for this. The artist had a policy of not painting anyone he had never met before but he had met Mrs. Kennedy and she asked him to do the portrait. He agreed to paint it using Bobby as the model and not really showing any facial features. The head-down position is so as not to have a full-on face and also do portray the difficulty of his presidency.
We couldn’t take anything to the White House except wallet, camera, keys, cellphone, so we went back to Arlington, found a Starbucks for breakfast then back to the hotel to get ready for the rest of the day. We had timed tickets for the Holocaust Memorial at 3 p.m. and it is just right around the corner from the Smithsonian Museum of American History. So we spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon learning more history.
There was a section on protests with lots of signs and a video loop with marches from way back when until about 2014. Maybe in the next couple of years they will update it to include the Women’s March.
So lots of history, lots of neat things to look at and to try out. We looked at all the old cars, trains, trolleys and buses, as well.
We saw most of that museum and had lunch and then went to the Holocaus Memorial. I really wasn’t sure what to expect. My first “introduction” to the Holocaust was when I was in fourth grade and my mom took my brother and me to see The Hiding Place, the movie based on Corrie ten Boom’s autobiography. (If you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it.) All I knew was we were going to see a movie. It never occurred to my mother that it might be too intense for a fourth grader and a kindergartner. It was rated PG at the time and would be a PG-13 now and at that time in Singapore movies were so heavily censored you could take your kids to about anything. But I was a sensitive kid leading a sheltered life and had no idea such things happened. So I wasn’t sure how I would deal with this but felt it was important to go. Katy was much better prepared and has a better nervous system than I do. It wasn’t bad at all since by now I’ve seen pretty much all the pictures in books and magazines.
The first area to go through does not require a ticket and is designed for children eight and up. It’s called Daniel’s Story and you walk through Daniel’s house, read his diary entries and see how his life is (school and friends and family) and how it changes as a young Jewish boy living in a house and gong to school and then being forced into a ghetto. His parents owned a business and had the windows broken and the only Jewish doctor was arrested.
I didn’t get very many pictures but it really was neat.
Then we went up to the permanent collection, which is the main part of the museum. You get a booklet with the real story of a person. My person was Czechoslovakian sent to a ghetto and escaped from there. She eventually came to the US and worked as something in pharmacology, I forget exactly what. She was very fortunate.
You take an elevator designed to look like a train box car to the top floor and then slowly work your way down. It begins with Hitler’s rise to power and how he was able to sway so many people to his way of thinking.
We were walking on the bricks at one point, the same bricks so many Jews walked into the ghetto and out on their way to something worse.
Jehovah’s Witnesses were targeting because of their refusal to salute Hitler, sing the anthem (school children), vote, serve in the military or any other “patriotic” activity. They could save themselves by formally renouncing their beliefs but many refused and accepted the persecution. They were forced to wear purple triangles to identify themselves.
They went quite a bit into the operations of the gas chambers and crematoriums.
We are the shoes, we are the last witnesses.
We are shoes from grandchildren and grandfathers
From Prague, Paris and Amsterdam,
And because we are only made of fabric and leather
And not of blood and flesh,
Each one of us avoided the hellfire.
If you enlarge this you can read it. Katy read his book in eighth grade.
There was also a section in the non-ticketed part of the museum dedicated to Cambodia’s Killing Fields.
With that we ended our day of touring. Our hotel was in an area with lots of really good restaurants and we ended up at an Afghani place for dinner. Yummy kabobs, homemade flat bread, hummus and other stuff.