D&C’s Take on DC – Part 2

Welcome to our second post for DC which covers Aunt Mary and Jane’s visit and excursions to the National Cathedral, WWII & Vietnam Memorials, the National Gallery, and Mount Vernon.  There was plenty of good food, fine, and most importantly – company enjoyed!

National Cathedral (Thurs, Oct 20)

After accidentally missing the turnoff to VA from DCA where we picked up Jane and Aunt Mary, we decided to head straight to Bethesda MD for dinner with the DC Beatos.  After missing a turn somewhere (yes you’re seeing a theme and yes, I was the navigator :)), and ending up on the northwest side of DC, we decided to visit the National Cathedral, a fortunate accident!

Choir practice – wow:

Memorials (Fri, Oct 21)

A gorgeous day in DC – thanks to all of our veterans, with us and no longer with us, who fight and have fought for the freedoms we enjoy every day!

World War II Memorial

This memorial honors:

  • 16 million who served in the armed forces of the U.S.
  • More than 400,000 who died (the star display is particularly powerful testament) – 4,048 gold stars, each representing 100 Americans who died in the war
  • All who supported the war effort from home

More about the memorial:

  • The memorial was opened in April 2004
  • 56 granite pillars, each inscribed with the name of one of the 48 states of 1945, plus DC, AK and HI territories, US Virgin Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Philippines
  • The Pacific and the Atlantic arches represent the ‘theaters’, the parts of the world where the major war events took place.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The memorial honors:  U.S. service members who fought in the Vietnam War, service members who died in service in Vietnam/South East Asia, and MIA service members.  3 million people visit it each year.

The memorial includes 3 main areas:

  • Main wall (completed in 1982)
  • Three Soldiers (European American, African American, and Hispanic American represented, and meant to provide a traditional element to the memorial)
  • Women’s Memorial (we didn’t see this – dedicated to women’s contributions, especially nursing)

More about the memorial and its design:

  • The selected design was very controversial, in particular its unconventional design, its black color and its lack of ornamentation.
  • When a visitor looks upon the wall, his or her reflection can be seen simultaneously with the engraved names, which is meant to symbolically bring the past and present together.  The wall lists over 58,000 names.
  • Several thousand items are left as momentos each year at the memorial.  Memorable examples include a Purple Heart thrown into the concrete of the foundation during construction, a Harley Davidson motorcycle with HERO on the license plate.

Enjoying the fall colors & waiting for lunch at Leopold’s Kafe, one of Dave’s favorite places in Georgetown!

National Gallery (Sat, Oct 22)

The National Gallery of Art has one of the finest art collections in the world. It was created by a joint resolution of Congress accepting the gift of financier, public servant, and art collector Andrew Mellon  in 1937. European and American paintings, sculpture, works on paper, photographs, and decorative arts are displayed in the collection galleries and Sculpture Garden.

  • Ranked 2nd nationally and 8th in the world
  • 4.2 million visitors/year
  • Consists of East Building (modern art), West Building (more traditional), and Sculpture Garden – we only hit the West Building and it was a great way to spend a few hours!
  • Is the home to the only da Vinci painting in the Americas, Ginevra de’Benci.  This work could represent the first time an Italian woman was painting in a more relaxed open pose. Behind her spiky juniper leaves represent chastity and the subject’s name.
  • Home to many works of the European masters including Vermeer, Raphael, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Rubens.  Talk about time well-spent!

National Archives (Sun, Oct 23) – the stars of this show include:  Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and the Bill of Rights – known collectively as the Charters of Freedom.  Supporting cast includes the Magna Carta.  🙂

More about these treasured documents:

  • The Declaration announced to the world on July 4, 1776, that thirteen British colonies in North America were leaving Great Britain to form a separate nation, called the United States of America. In justifying the revolution, the Declaration asserted a universal truth about human rights.
  • The Constitution, drafted in 1787 after a hard-won victory in the War for Independence, codified the spirit of the Revolution into an ingenious practical scheme of government to promote the welfare of all its citizens.
  • The Bill of Rights, added to the Constitution in 1791 as the first ten amendments, explicitly protected freedom of speech, of the press, of religion, and of assembly, among many other rights.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Preamble to the Declaration of Independence

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. Preamble to the United States Constitution

Dinner at the Beatos with the Lams!

We had a wonderful dinner at the (DC) Beatos featuring homemade fried Vietnamese spring rolls (courtesy of the Lams), the best lamb chops, and some balance beam dancing!  It was a great time to spend with Dave’s family and get to know the Lams!

Mount Vernon, home of George & Martha Washington (Mon, Oct 24)

Our expectations were pretty low going into the visit, and I’m so glad we went! Interesting facts about Mount Vernon:

  • The house was originally built in 1735 by Washington’s father – Washington’s half brother Lawrence lived there until his death in 1752 – he left the home to George.
  •  We learned that Washington was a self-taught architect who designed an expansion of the house in 1758 (raised the roof to make the mansion 2 1/2 stories high.) In 1774 he added the north and south wings, the cupola, and piazza.
  • The piazza is one of George Washington’s contributions to colonial Virginian architecture.
  • Opting for vivid paint and wallpaper through much of the house, Washington made choices that expressed the tastes of his era, when the use of bold colors was a sign of wealth.
  • Mount Vernon has a full basement, but there are no secret passages leading from it (unlike what you heard in the movie National Treasure!).
  • Washington himself hosted as many as 677 guests at the Mansion in one year, in 1798.
  • George passed away at Mount Vernon in 1799 from a throat infection.  Martha moved to a bedroom upstairs and never slept in their bedroom again.

Around the mansion:  the lawn, or ‘bolling green’ as Washington referred to it, required extensive maintenance as it was regularly smoothed with a large stone roller and cut with scythes.


While we were walking around the garden I felt a little something fall on my arm – I was concerned as I wasn’t near a tree.  Yes, sure enough, a bird crapped on me – do they say that’s good luck?  Should’ve bought a lottery ticket that day – ha ha!

Close up with a butterfly:

Rooms we saw inside the mansion (photos from website):

Mansion Outbuildings

Washington Tomb

Jane and I saw a wreath laying ceremony and we all said the Pledge of Allegiance – can’t remember the last time I did that, it was touching.  George’s tomb is on the right, Martha’s on the left.

Donald Reynolds Museum and Education Center

Very nicely done museum – we didn’t have much time to spend there unfortunately.  It is well worth a visit and you could easily spend a few hours checking out all the exhibits.  Turns out, George ‘married well’ as Martha was one of Virginia’s wealthiest widows….

New York for 1 night (Tues, Oct 25)

I took the Amtrak into NYC for the second time this month for a team meeting.  I stayed at Lotte Palace which I think could have the largest guest rooms in Manhattan.  The view was pretty amazing.  Unfortunately World Series game #1 was not good – but we know how that turned out don’t we??!!!  Co Cubs!!

Next post includes:  National Botanic Gardens, National Garden, National Museum of the American Indian, Clearwater Beach visit, followed by Arlington National Cemetery and the Pentagon Memorial.

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