Saturday, May 3, 2014

Washington DC: A History

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I love the East Coast. 

Hello, capital city of the United States of America!  I have never felt more patriotic being in the presence of a place that doesn't even have the remotest connection to me or my ancestors ( I am exaggerating, there is a connection).  Washington DC kind of does that to you.

Let’s start with the towering obelisk that strangely represents the nation’s first president – the Washington Monument.  Curiously, why would an Egyptian symbol represent an American forefather?  If you want the “conspiracy theory” answer, just read Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol.  It’s more interesting than the historically-accurate answers you’re going to get.

With my back turned to Washington Monument, I would be facing another former and probably more famous president – Abraham Lincoln.  Or at least his memorial.  It is a Greek-style building with Doric columns and white marble stones and everything.  Reminds me of the Pantheon. 

Surrounding Lincoln’s statue are wall inscriptions of his two famous speeches – the Gettysburg Address, and the Second Inaugural Address.  I can feel the air of reverence from American tourists as this man saved the Union.  Without him, maybe the United States would have been two separate countries or something of that sort, and slavery in the South would have continued.

Another notable person honored in the same memorial was Martin Luther King Jr.  His name and his speech title “I Have a Dream” was engraved on the very spot he gave it to further their African-American Civil rights movement.  You can easily miss it if you don’t know where to look.

This time, facing towards the Washington Monument in the distance, I can choose to go to the Vietnam War Veterans Memorial on the left, the Korean War Veterans Memorial on the right, the National World War II Memorial just up ahead where the reflecting pool ends.

We went to the Korean War Veterans Memorial because we were going to walk to that direction anyway.

I guess the Philippines was one nation of the United Nations which assisted in this war.

I’m just right beside the Potomac River where my cousins are going to pick me up.  On to the next historical landmark!

Up ahead, I saw a domed structure that I didn’t know what represented until I went inside.  All I knew then was that this was really a popular site for wedding pictures!  I saw at least three wedding parties, with their wedding outfits on and everything! Bonus fact: That last guy was really cute.

This neoclassical building turned out to be the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.  It’s right across the Potomac River and directly south of the White House (which I couldn’t wait to see).  

You can see the Washington Monument right behind me while I was facing the Jefferson Memorial.  It was camouflaged by the white clouds so it might be difficult to spot it.  I must say, I didn't have the fanciest camera to capture it in "extreme" conditions such as too-bright lighting.

Squished in-between my pretty cousins.  We're going to the White House next!

And no, this isn't the White House, obviously.  It's the Renwick Gallery, which is a branch of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.  We didn't go inside because, you know, the White House is just a few steps ahead and I'm the ever excited gal.

Close, but no.  This isn't the White House still.  This is the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building, situated beside the White House.  It is occupied by the "Executive Office of the President, and including the Office of the Vice President of the United States".  I got that from Wiki and I was confused.  So other than the Oval Office, there's another Presidential Office?  

Anyway, what captured my fancy on this building was the plaque hanging on its iron gates.  Look at the second line, second word.  See it? It says "Cavete" and yes it means, "Cavite".

Here's the complete transcript: 

These five-inch brass trophy guns were captured from the Spanish Arsenal at Cavete, in the Phillipine (The Travellite's Note: I did not just misspell our country, that's exactly how they spelled it) Islands on May 1, 1898, following the defeat of the Spanish Squadron in Manila Bay by the United States Navy. Admiral Dewey, the hero of the campaign, directed that the guns be sent to the United States National Museum (now the Smithsonian Institution).  The guns are on loan from the Smithsonian Institution Division of Armed Forces History.  Plaques atop the gun barrels state they were made in Sevilla, Spain in 1875.  

From 1900 until 1943, there were 29 such pieces of ordinance from the revolutionary, Mexican-American, and Spanish-American Wars displayed on these grounds.  Many were dispersed to the battlefields across the country, while some were scrapped for the World War II effort.

The two cannons are right behind me, in a sort of greenish/bluish hue.

At last, here's the White House!

I was pretty surprised about how small it is in real life.  I always thought it was a bit bigger.  I was not disappointed though.  It met my expectations in terms of its pristine splendor.  I even spent more than a few minutes to just stare at it and imagine seeing a silhouette of Obama or something.

The day (and hence, this post) is not over yet.  Although I'm not a museum-going person, I must see the Smithsonian!

There are several museums making up the Institution (pictured below); there's one for art, American History, air and space, etc.  It's not just contained in this one castle.

We went to Natural History.  Does Night at the Museum, ring a bell?

Pre-historic animals are cool, I guess.  I'm just interested in the Harry Winston Gallery. *drools*

And within this enclave are gems and more gems, and the queen of all gems: the Hope Diamond.

Can I haz eet?

I must get some air because I was suffocating on my poverty.  

The US Capitol from far away is enough to cap the day off. 

If you're sick of my writing or you're just looking for another blogger to admire, check out my friend Sandy's blog Feel-Good Avenue.  You won't regret it, I promise.  Plus, she takes waaay better photos.  Watch out because she just invited me to be a guest blogger and all I have to do is be more diligent in my writing!


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