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A week in the nation's capital
We spent a week in the nation's capital last week. It was an incredible trip, and it was my first chance to visit Washington DC. It was well worth the wait.
On Sunday, we visited the National Air and Space museum annex near Washington Dulles International Airport. Probably the most sobering sight was the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. It was surreal to see the plane that dropped a single bomb that incinerated so many. While I believe the Hiroshima bombing was justified and ultimately saved more lives than it took, it was still a great tragedy.
Monday, we visited another sobering place: the Holocaust memorial. It is amazing how inhumane and barbaric people can be. While we look down on the Nazis with good reason, is the USA itself morally superior? We have plenty of blood on our hands, and our treatment of American Indians can be viewed only as genocide. The Holocaust memorial was a reminder of how easily hatred can take over and lead to terrible atrocities, and of the need for good people to stand against hate - whether it be against Jews, against Blacks or against Hispanics.
Visiting Arlington National Cemetery was sobering as well. It is a grim reminder of the cost many have paid for freedom. The Eternal Flame that burns in memorial to John F. Kennedy was moving. The tour guides reminded us of the underhanded manner in which the cemetery was created, after Yankee soldiers looted Robert E. Lee's mansion and a Yankee general decided to confiscate Lee's property for buying slain soldiers. Lee holds the unique place of being the only person who fought against the United States who has been honored by the federal government.
The Smithsonian museums are a great treasure of knowledge and history, and are a must-see for anyone visiting Washington DC. The air and space museum was especially interesting, with displays of the V-1 and V-2 rockets, the Tomahawk cruise missile and intermediate-range nuclear missiles. We saw the war memorials as well. The Vietnam Veterans memorial is elegant and simple, another must-see.
I was very impressed with the Metro subway system. It was clean, well-maintained and well-organized. There are plenty of stations and maps available of the downtown DC area for people to get where they want to go. The routes are easy to understand and well-marked. I certainly would not want to use the Metro for daily travel, though. There are benefits to living in a small city that is drivable.