Looking along the Vietnam Wall to the Washington Monument
First thing I want to
say is that I have lost track of the dates when I was in certain places so they
are probably wrong in my journal. This also helped contribute to me
arriving a day late at my hotel in DC, which came as a surprise to me. They had
cancelled my reservation but luckily nobody else had taken it so I was able to
get the room I booked. Ooops.
The room was a private room, tiny with a small bathroom that set off the fire
alarm even with a lukewarm shower, a problem solved by hanging my hoodie over
the alarm. There was also some kind of decorating going on which was kind
of noisy but what the hell.
I think I stayed in bed most of the first day there; somehow I was incredibly
tired without having done anything in particular. Of course I wish I
hadn't, because it turned out I only had one day to see the sights in the end,
but you live and learn.
So I headed off to the Smithsonian museum, located on the National Mall.
The Nurses Memorial for the Vietnam War.
I was mostly interested in the Air and SpaceMuseum, having
heard from a few customers while I was at work in Tahsis that it was full of
amazing historical artefacts. He wasn't wrong. (Thanks Gary!) There
was a full size replica of the Wright Brothers historic plane, The Spirit
of St Louis, the backup mirror for the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as a
life size replica of that too. The planetarium was a first for me
too. It is basically like being inside a sphere, the top half of which is
a giant curved cinema screen. The movie was about stellar collisions
and their role in creating the earth and paving the way for the evolution of
humans to inhabit it. It started off with the current theory of how the
moon was formed, a giant Mars sized object flying into the Earth's surface
and knocking a big mass of land into space.
Back of the White House.
It is theorised that it would
only take a month or so for all of these big chunks to form into the moon
through their gravitational attraction, which is pretty impressive.
I walked around for a few hours almost awestruck by the things they had on display,
but I guess you would have to be there to fully appreciate it.
Stepping back outside you find yourself in the middle of the US
Government. To the left is the CapitolBuilding, the
home of the Senate and House of Representatives, behind which lies the Supreme Court.
And just across the way is the White House. The two form a right angled
triangle with the WashingtonMonument at the corner, so that both the President and the members of
Congress can see it while they work, I guess as a reminder or something of
Me at the Forest Gump Memorial
I headed over to the WashingtonMonument to get a better look at it and sat down on the wall facing the
Lincoln Memorial and the Reflecting Pool. It was then that two guys
naming themselves as Ben and Brody appeared and shouted to gather people to
them for a free tour. Wasn't going to say no to that.
They led us around most of the monuments and memorials for about an hour.
Starting at the WashingtonMonument, moving onto the World War Two, Vietnam,
and finally the Lincoln Memorial.
Washington Monument from the Lincoln Memorial
They also were full of interesting titbits
of information about these places. For example the Vietnam
memorial design was the winner of a competition. She was an architecture
student whose professor graded her entry a D, but only afterwards it was
revealed that he himself had entered!
One of the rules for the competition was that it had be non political.
But she broke that rule slightly. The wall is actually two walls that
meet at a 120 degree angle. One points to the WashingtonMonument as a
reminder of what the country (nearly said our country!) stands for, and the
other to the Lincoln Memorial, as a reminder of a man who brought the country
through civil war and fought for freedom.
A more conservative memorial of the Vietnam War
The meaning being the Vietnam
War did nothing. The wall is level, but the path along it sinks down so
that it appears to get taller. At the tallest point, where the two walls
meet, the viewer is looking directly at a point 6 ft below the surface, the
message being that US soldiers are buried 6 ft underground. Finally the
names are not listed alphabetically but in the order they died. The first
and last man to die in Vietnam are listed side by side, again to symbolise the futility of the
After the tour was over I moved over to get a look at the White House. It
wasn't that exciting, there was a light on and people were asking the on
duty police guard if that meant 'he' was in that room, to which of course he
had no idea, but it was nice to think he was, just out range of a rotten egg throw
Went back home afterwards and packed up my bags for the early morning trek ( I
had to leave at) to the airport to continue the journey.
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