Mallory doesn’t love to read….I get it, I didn’t either when I was her age. I mean, now in my 30’s I read several books per month but at age 14 I wasn’t exactly interested in sitting and reading. So, when she started bringing home books from the library on the Holocaust and they weren’t assigned by the teacher, I knew she was interested. They had started to learn about it in school that semester and she would ask questions about it and if she could go to the museum in Washington, DC to learn more about it, I couldn’t exactly say no! Plus, it’s been years since I’ve been there and I myself always wanted to visit. So we made it happen….we planned a weekend that I didn’t have a wedding, arranged childcare for Levi since it’s not really an appropriate place (in my opinion) to take a toddler and set off to visit the museum. We figured since we were already going to be there, we should probably hit up a few other major landmarks. We had beautiful weather and couldn’t have asked for a better weekend.
We walked a lot of miles, got an amazing farmers tan and learned a few things along the way! We were reading facts about the places we would be seeing in the car on the way there and I think in general…this trip made an impact. The museum itself was worth the entire trip. If I’m being honest, I partially expected her to lose interest in it half way thru-she’s 14 and let’s face it, sometimes they don’t have the best attentions pans. There was a lot of reading and if you take your time (which we did) it can take 3-4 hours to go thru. Much to my amazement, she read literally every.single.thing. She took her time and didn’t rush thru any of it. I snapped a photo that you’ll see below that captured her while she was learning about how Hitler was trying to create a master race. I honestly feel that every single person should visit this place. I learned so much about the Holocaust it’s self but I feel like I learned so much about myself. I don’t think I’ll ever be the same.
The energy in the rooms was hard to explain. It’s absolutely something you need to experience for yourself.
The Arlington National Cemetery
- One of the soldiers buried at the Tomb of the Unknown soldier was identified 14 years after he was buried. Advances in technology made it possible.
- President John F. Kennedy is buried there.
- Arlington Cemetery spans 624 acres, which is roughly the size of 472 football fields. The number of people buried there (400,000) is roughly the same size as the population of Minneapolis.
Our first stop was the Arlington Cemetery where we got to see the graves of some of the US presidents, learn a little more about the 400,000 people buried there and also got to witness the changing of the guards at the tomb of the unknown soldier. It was a pretty humbling experience. We also got to witness one of the guards reprimanding one of the guests for sitting on a wall that was clearly marked “no sitting on the wall”.
I was actually attempting to take a photo of the sign when a group of guards came thru. Perfect timing but I think it makes the photo much more interesting!
Tomb of the unknown soldier and the guard. It’s a very humbling thing to watch. Everything is systematical and the rules they must follow are extensive including the rules after they are no longer a guard. Rules they must follow for the rest of their life or risk losing their pins. For example, they can never swear or drink alcohol EVER again in their entire lives.
A grown women who clearly can not follow the rules. <eye roll> I have low tolerance for those who have no respect.
Pennys at one of the relatives of Lincoln’s grave site.
Next we headed over to the Lincoln and Washington Memorial. We walked the entire reflecting pool and the World War 2 memorial. We had to wait quite a while to get this photo. The memorials are filled with tourists and did I mention that I hate crowds! haha!
I love that upper right hand photo above. I love that you can see their silhouette but you can also see the Washington Memorial in the back. We were able to get away from the crowds to get that shot.
I’m pretty sure this is the only photo we got of Greg and I during the entire weekend! haha!
Golden hour at the reflecting pool!
The girls in front of the Washington Memorial. We couldn’t get any closer because they had closed it to renovate the elevator.
The United States holocaust Memorial Museum
The next morning we journeyed into the city, found parking and waited until 10am to get into the museum. If you’re planning your trip ahead of time, it’s worth reserving tickets online so that you don’t have to wait in line hoping to be able to get in. The tickets are free and luckily that’s what we did. We scheduled them for 10am when it opened so that we could spend the rest of the day exploring the rest of downtown.
I think the look on her face says it all. This particular exhibit was talking about how they classified particular members of the human race…basically how they determined if you were worthy of living. It also touched on the sterilization of women, children and those who had disabilities of any kind.
This hallway shows the names of towns and cities whose communities were lost as part of the “final solution”.
The Tower of Faces: Yaffa Eliach, who as a 4-year-old survived the Nazi massacres of Jews in her Lithuanian town went on to document their daily life in a kaleidoscopic book and a haunting, three-story canyon of photographs at the museum. You can see Greg in the bottom right hand corner reading the plaque on the wall.
The pike of shoes are stark reminders of the fragility of life during the Holocaust. In some cases, piles of shoes provide one of the few lasting signs of those who had been murdered at death camps. This exhibit punched me in the gut.
Greg standing in front of a gallery of images. Each one is the arm of a Holocaust survivor who was tattooed with their identifying number. Always on the left arm. The quote above is heavy.
Although, I don’t have any images from this particular display, it was that one at the end -that really got me hard. Tears ran down my face as I watched. Let me preface this by saying, I tearned up so many times walking thru. They showed videos of children being experimented on, sterilization, starvation and every horrific thing in between…and I’m not sure why this particular story sent me over the edge but It REALLY got me.
They were videos of Holocaust survivors being interviewed and asked certain questions like what do you want people to take away from this museum or tell us about the day you were rescued, etc. etc. This one women started talking about how she knew that to give her daughter even a slight chance of living she would need to “give her away” to a safe family. In the months leading up to it, they stopped hugging and kissing her in order to desensitize her so when the day came it wouldn’t feel as tragic. Listening to her words and being a Mom myself…I lost it. I can not even imagine. <3
I said it before: I will never be the same after visiting. I’m so grateful I was able to go.
Down Town Washington DC.
Food Trucks!! I love food trucks…nothing screams city more than lining up and ordering your meal from a mobile kitchen! I stood in line at the Mexican one for a while and was going to get a chicken quesadilla but watched several times as she handled money and then went back to cooking without changing her gloves…NOPE. I moved on and ended up ordering from a different truck!
We clocked close to 20K steps that day. We walked the entire Mall to the Capital Building, then trekked it back a mile or two to the White House. After that, we were spent in the head and humidity. I ended up getting an Uber and taking an expensive ride back to our car parked a few miles away. It was worth it though. We tried to rent a scooter but they required a drivers license for each person and well when your 14 you don’t have one so that option was out the window for us. If anyone has any tips on how we could have made that possible—I wanna know! Seriously because we saw others younger riding them but how did they rent them? With someone’s app? I need to know! haha!
The Exorcist Steps
This was recommended to us from one of my friends. This is a fun, off the beaten path type of attraction. You have to know where you are going because there is nothing at the top of the stairs that would make you know that it was there. At the bottom, the plaque tells the story.
It’s from the scene when the priest gets thrown down the stairs. Apparently, the steps were padded with half-inch-thick rubber to film the death of the character Father Damien Karras. According to Wikipedia, because the house from which Karras falls was set back slightly from the steps, the film crew constructed an extension with a false front to the house in order to film the scene. The stuntman tumbled down the stairs twice. Georgetown University students charged people around $5 each to watch the stunt from the rooftops.
Until next time DC. I know there’s so much more to see and do.