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Family Trip to Washington DC for Veteran’s Weekend – Newseum, Capitol, the Mall & Smithsonian by Ann Treacy
November 10, 2019, 10:57 pm
Filed under: Washington DC

This weekend Aine, Auntie Katie, Bridie, Grandma, Grandpa and I all headed to Washington DC for a super quick trip over Veteran’s Weekend. It’s been a whirlwind!

We started yesterday with a walk past the Ruth Bader Ginsburg mural on the way to the Newseum, a museum dedicated to news. It’s funny, sad and informative. Most of all it’s an important reminder of the integral role journalism and the media play in our democracy – for better and for ill. From Washington Post (and several TC newspaper articles) to Twitter, the Newseum recognizes the importance of freedom of information inherent in the five promises in the First Amendment: free of the press, speech, assembly, religion and petition.

In honor of the 30th anniversary of the collapse of the Berlin Wall, we got to touch a piece of the wall and see some old school German graffiti. And 50 years after the original Stonewall riots, we got to learn about day the actions that led up to that day and the progress we’ve made as a country is civil rights and sexual preference and identification. (Hopefully we’ll continue to make strides!)

The 911 exhibits were chilling. I shouldn’t admit but I remember little of that day – in part because with two sleeping babies upstairs and my work downstairs, I was oblivious until much later in the morning. We did remember that Grandpa was in DC at the time – heading to the Pentagon. Luckily Grandpa has always had a cell/car phone so we were able to reach him. But it was scary. Juxtapose that with the late night section featuring Jon Stewart, James Cordon, Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah and others. It’s easy to see why we need a filtered view of what’s happening these days.

Pro Tip: The Newseum is slated to close at the end of the year. It’s worth a trip if your in DC.

After the Newseum, some of us headed to the US Capitol. We got there 2 minutes before the last tour stated. We didn’t exactly get an insider’s view of the building but we saw the glitz and glamour. It is a pretty amazing building. We learned that each state gets two statues. We saw a lot of them – but not the ones from Minnesota. Also, a nod to the pretty decent orientation video on “e pluribus unum” – out of many one on the idea of America being/needing to debate together to get to one voice.

Then one of us hiked back to the AirBNB. I love a hustled walk in a city like DC. Such a treat – especially when it seems so much warmer than home.

We ended the day at Bristrot du Coin. I’m just going to say – foie gras, paté, crème brule, salmon, mussels, champagne cocktail… So yummy and we got a quiet table in an otherwise bustling location.

Day two was the family-selfie tour of The Mall.

We picked the perfect day to spend outside. It was almost 60 degrees, in the sun. We started at the WWII Memorial. As we arrived a series of marching bands showed up. So we got to hear some touching songs and a speech recognizing the service of Vets. It was very nice.

Next up – the Lincoln Memorial – with a special stop at the “I have a Dream” memento on the steps where Martin Luther King Jr stood to give that speech. We learned that 37 people fall down the stairs to the Memorial each day. Pleased to report that we weren’t part of that statistic – on this trip. We checked out the Korean War Memorial and Vietnam Memorial. I like how these memorials recognize the personal sacrifice in a way that the WWII doesn’t. I think in the 1940s there may have been greater internal connection between individual and state (or nation), I’m not sure that’s there in the same way. Subsequently, featuring the soldiers coming out of the woods (Korean) or names of the deceased soldiers (Vietnam) is a nice touch back to the soldier as individual.

We took a walk down The Mall to the Smithsonian for American History. We trekked through to see our favorite things – the ruby red slippers, first lady dresses and a few techie things for me. DC is very fun – but it’s hard to be here when we are so divided as a people. For example, hard not to judge the reaction to the First Lady dresses. I love Michelle Obama, I have room for Nancy Reagan, love to hear about how Dolley Madison held parties to bridge hard topics but I wonder about the people swooning over the most current addition. I’m not necessarily proud of that; wish I saw a road to change it.

Our last gasp was the Sculpture Garden. I’m a sucker for a good Sculpture Garden. I walked through it just a month ago when I was in town to present at the First Native Broadband conference but always more fun to tour with family. Even if some of the family is super tired and ready for a rest.

The trip isn’t over quite yet – we’re resting up in Baltimore waiting for a crab-cake forward dinner before we fly out in the morning.


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