Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Field Trip - Monuments in D.C.

Often times I hope that my kids will find a field trip to be a wonderful learning experience, but I just never know for sure what they will glean from it.  This past week I realized the power of an artistically created monument to inspire children.  Again and again they have questioned me about the era, the war, or the presidency that was represented by these Washington statues.  I found that Washington was an easy and safe city to traverse.

Here are the monuments that we visited and my review of the city, with tidbits on what I have learned.

The Roosevelt Monument -

This is an incredibly fascinating monument.  At 200 yards long it travels through his four terms as president.  Many of his famous quotes are inscribed on the walls and the waterfalls are so loud that you can almost hear his words echoing in your head.  The bronze fire-side chat, food line, and rural couple invoke a lot of emotion.  How scary it must have been to have lived through this period in our country's history.  I was left to wonder who will be the next American to lead us through our next difficult time?

The quote - "I have seen war...I hate war," has stayed with my six year old daughter.  She sees a picture of FDR and tells me he hates war.

Lincoln Memorial -

Although, I had seen the actual statue of Lincoln in pictures, nothing prepared me for the size of this building.  I was amazed and delighted.  It is like having a piece of Greece in the United States.  My children were humbled by this monument.  The book store has some great resources on the president and the period of time he served.

Washington Monument - 

Before visiting this famous obelisk, dedicated to George Washington, I was never impressed with it.  My view of it is forever changed and I cannot tell you exactly why.  Some of it has to do with the fact that it was built in the early 1800s.  And then I think its placement is also significant.  Both the Capital and the White House face this iconic image of the most famous founding father.

Korean War Monument -

Again, like the Roosevelt memorial, the emotions this monument invokes is hard to relate.  I was very moved and it gave me a slightly spooky feeling.   I would like to go back and just sit near this site.

Vietnam War Memorial -

This wall, that is built into a natural hill, lists all of the soldiers who died in the war.  During the fall season the colors of the trees and the clear blue sky are reflected in it.  There is a bit of sadness here as we watched people scratch names off the wall, onto sheets of paper.  It is similar to visiting a cemetery.  

World War II Memorial - 

The best way to describe this shrine, is perfect.  It is grand, peaceful and majestic.  It is placed in the most ideal location, between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.  Each state is represented on a post with a brass wreath adorning it, and they surround the oval water fountain.  It is just perfect and I am so pleased we could see it.

What I learned about Washington D.C. and my field trip summary-

*Food is expensive.  There aren't any vendors on the mall, except the National Park Service restaurants and trinket stores.
*The museums have places to eat but they are even more expensive then what NPS offers.
*I am not sure how to avoid paying a lot for your meals.  I couldn't imagine carrying all of your food through the city.  I suppose that if you had a large family you could take turns wearing the back pack full of sandwiches.
*All of the Smithsonian Museums are free, but you still need tickets to the Holocaust Museum.
*There are restrooms at the monuments and many are open late.
*I highly recommend the Old Town Trolley.  You can hop on and off throughout the city, the drivers are very informative and professional, and they go all the way out to the Union Train Station and Arlington National Cemetery.  At $35 a day for adults and $25 for children, I felt they were very reasonable and well worth it.
*Staying at the Embassy Suites in Vienna, Virginia worked out very well.  The hotel shuttle delivered us to the train station each morning and then we hopped on board for an easy ride to the city.  There is only one subway line at this station, and this makes it very difficult to get confused.

I give this field trip four stars out of five.

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