Arlington Cemetery and Museums

June 19, 2011 – What to do after seeing a lot of DC highlights on Saturday?  Head back into town on Sunday, of course, to visit some more areas!

Arlington Walk
It was a hot day for a walk around the city.

First up was Arlington National Cemetery to see the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknowns.  We got off the metro and headed up the hill, then up another hill, all while walking past row upon row of the honored dead.  Many of the tombstones were for men who had fought in two or more wars (WWII, Korea, and Vietnam).  We watched the ceremony of the changing of the guards, and noted the instant respect the soldiers commanded when one told the crowd that they would maintain an attitude of silence and respect as they were (slightly noisily) leaving the tomb.  On the way back to the metro we took a detour past the Kennedy grave sites and the eternal flame.  There’s also a great view of downtown from this little hill.

Airborne Statue
This 101st Airborne Monument is one of many near the Cemetery.

Union station was the next stop for some lunch – Bojangles for the guys and Indian food for Louisa (in her opinion, the Indian food was the best bet, great lentil daal plus another entree, as well as rice and naan).  After lunch in the basement cafeteria we headed upstairs to see the great hall.  It’s definitely more pretty, and less chaotic, than Penn Station in NYC. 😉

Metro Wall Art
Yes, this wall is supposed to be bowed out like this.

National Archives was up next, particularly since the line to get inside wasn’t too long.  We immediately went to see the “Big 3” documents and additional material.  Being three history and tech nerds, we were particularly interested in old computer equipment and military photos (i.e. Ike encouraging the troops before D-Day, troops wading ashore at Normandy). The tour continued over to the Old Post Office Building for views of the City and the bells, and then a stroll past the FBI building.

Keep Out!
The sign should read: “OF COURSE YOU CAN ENTER”

Remaining hours in the day were spent on a quick tour of a few more Smithsonian museums.  First up was the Natural History Museum to see dinosaur skeletons and the Hope Diamond.  It had been set in a special, temporary setting.  Louisa liked all the sparkles of the additional (white) diamonds, though Tony preferred the simplicity and purity of the original setting.

Rex Ready
The original Rex Ready, without the time travelling of course.

The final stop of the day was the Museum of American History, where we saw the flag of  “Star-spangled Banner” fame, as well as a few interesting posters.  Per tradition, it was back to Five Guys for dinner!

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