We took a little family vacation to DC this summer—mainly because Al and I think it’s a cool town and because Ryan loves history and he’s kinda interested in government. Dad came with the three of us as we did a quick trip through the District.
Monday we hit up the Newseum, which people highly recommended. I thought it was pretty cool at first glance, but I NEVER thought I’d get sucked in as much or as long as I did. A few of the temporary exhibits included the Berlin Wall (and they had a few slabs on display in addition to news coverage), photos of famous athletes, and an FBI exhibit (which made me feel better about not getting a tour there). The FBI exhibit included various forms of news media and artifacts from the Unibomber, Waco, Oklahoma City, and the DC Sniper. I rounded the corner at the sniper exhibit where they had a mock-up of the trunk of the car (used for the trial) and it. was. chilling. There was also a display of Pulitzer Prize winning photographs, and it was like walking through a gallery of recent history. And I was amazed at how much I recognized.
The Newseum also has a 9/11 exhibit that is pretty impressive with floor to ceiling displays of the headlines on 9/12—from around the world. There were other artifacts about that fateful day—and I had to wonder if people around me thought something was really wrong with the fact that here I was standing in the exhibit explaining what happened to my almost 16-year old son.
We really got sucked in to one exhibit which is basically newspapers and other news artifacts over time…and I usually think about how much occurred in history WELL before my time (seriously, I should have come of age in the 1940s or 1960s). But as I pulled drawer after drawer of significant headlines from 1979 to the present, I really HAVE been around for a lot of history.
We finally listened to our stomachs and got lunch in their food court (tasty, by the way). And then we headed over to the Spy Museum. I was hoping for a stop at the National Archives, but time didn’t permit…
And I have to say. I really like the Spy Museum. It starts out kinda cheesy, but it really is a cool place. And I highly recommend it.
Tuesday was the Holocaust Museum—something I’ve wanted to do since it opened my junior year in high school. And it didn’t disappoint. Going through the boxcar and coming out to see the suitcases on the ground next to it was the most haunting part to me.
And all along, one of us is taking the time to explain all of this to Ryan—who’d never learned about any of it. Which is surprising considering how much Ukraine took it in the neck from the Nazis. He was most captivated by the mock-up of the gas chamber and crematorium—and that was the part that stood out the most to him there. I am pleased to report that I wasn’t completely drained at the end like I thought I would be, either. It probably helped that I was hungry and Maslow kicked in…
And so we finally headed out for lunch at the Museum of the American Indian (part of the Smithsonian) at 4:00. We had plans for the Monuments by Moonlight tour that evening as well—and I HIGHLY recommend that one. Al and I did it several years ago and it was worth the repeat.
We walked over to Union Station from the Museum of the American Indian—by way of the Capital—which is always impressive to me. Even if what they say about laws and sausages is true.
The Moonlight tour takes you all over the District—the part of the DC that is the Mall and monuments. The driver tells you lots of fun facts while taking you around and there are several stops of about 30 minutes each. We went to the FDR Memorial—which is A. MAZING. and one of my personal favorites. We stopped at Lincoln/Vietnam/Korean War Memorials—and Ryan loved Lincoln. It was also cool to locate a name on the Wall with my Dad, who is a Vietnam vet. And give thanks that his name isn’t carved in stone. And the last stop was Iwo Jima after a quick drive by Arlington. Finally, it was back to Union Station and a late dinner at Capitol City Brewery.
Wednesday was the Museum of American History (hellooo Ruby Slippers, Kermit the Frog and a GEORGEOUS group of Stradivarii instruments, and military history display) and the Air and Space Museum. Both were crawling with people and I wasn’t particularly interested in Air and Space…but I knew the boys were, so I went along with it.
After a late night fire alarm pull at the hotel, we finally got back to some much needed sleep and headed home on Thursday.
It was super fun, but I needed a vacation to recover from my vacation!