Washington, D.C., Day 1 (August 16)

The next stop on the itinerary was Washington, D.C. It seemed like the right time to spend a few days introducing the kids to our nation’s capital…And even though a few days is too short of a time to appreciate everything on the National Mall, we would give it our best shot!

The Lord led us to a great hotel, the Holiday Inn at Rosslyn Key Bridge. See, the trick for us was really all about parking. We were towing a trailer, so it would be totally unrealistic to try to drive it around the National Mall area. So we needed a hotel on a Metro stop, with parking for us and our trailer. This was no small request, as it turned out, but happily there was one that fit the bill! Although we had to unpack our Thule, remove it, and carry it into the hotel’s lobby storage office in order to fit into the garage, I considered it totally worthwhile as we settled into our 10th-floor room, looking out across the skyscrapers, 2 blocks from the Metro station, with the truck and trailer safely tucked away for the next few days. 

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We watched the clouds and the airplanes reflect across the mirrored buildings…

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And were even treated to an evening thunderstorm lightning-show as we had dinner in the hotel’s rooftop restaurant…

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And then we got to work planning how to tackle the National Mall in three days!

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It all began with…the subway! Otherwise known as the Metro, this was the first treat for the kids…They were delighted with the longest escalator they had ever seen, bringing almost-smiles to the faces of all the native D.C. Metro-users who passed us by 🙂

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Even though we were visiting during the week, Tuesday through Thursday, there were still so many daily visitors that timed tickets were required in many cases, so our first stop was the Washington Monument, where we would find out when we could come back and visit the Washington Monument 🙂

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Which would be at 1:30 – and we were fortunate, because they ran out of tickets for the day about 10 minutes after us!

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Next stop, Holocaust Museum. The Holocaust Museum also operated on timed tickets, so it would be the same drill. But, we were fortunate again! As we waited in line for our timed tickets, a staff member came by asking for any military or veterans, and we received tickets that were good for any time of day! So, we went to the cafe where I taught the kids some background information on World War II and the Nazis and the Holocaust, and then we went right in.

We began in an exhibit that was created around the journal of a young boy, so it provided a child’s perspective on the rise of the Nazi regime, and followed his journey through the ghettos and into a concentration camp, where he was ultimately liberated by Allied forces. Then we continued on to the main exhibit. I was wondering how the kids would react. They treated it much the same as any other learning experience, and weren’t overly bothered by the imagery or the seriousness of the topic, although Asher did say he preferred not to look at some of the displays. I preferred not to look at some of them, too!

There was one moment that really brought home the heart of the Holocaust for me. It was at a display of a computing machine that was used to record human data, like race, height, weight, hair color, eye color, health conditions, etc. Hitler, known as the Physician, planned to use this information to monitor “the health of the race” by identifying any individuals that would be detrimental to genetic superiority and taking actions as he deemed necessary. There was an excerpt written by one of the data entry operators, who considered it to be a great honor to contribute to the purification of the German race. He said that he happily chose to have blind faith in Hitler for the betterment of Germany.

And that was it. That was the answer to the question, “How can so much evil, so much horror, actually happen?” It was because of the deliberate choice of individuals to have blind faith in Hitler, another human being.

And that is what I shared with my children, as I gathered them around the display – if you ever make a choice to have blind faith in another human being, no matter how wonderful they may seem, you are setting yourself up for disaster! And this type of disaster, the Holocaust, is a very real and very repeatable outcome of that mistake. So I asked them, is there anyone that we can ever have blind faith in?

And they said, “God!” And I was a happy Mama.

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Back out in the sunshine, with the sobering realities of the Holocaust Museum behind us, it was already time to make our way back to the Washington Monument, for a little snack and an elevator ride to the top!

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It’s a nice view, of course, and we made several circuits around the windows, pointing out all of the buildings that we would be visiting (or at least walking by) over the next couple of days.

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The National Museum of American History was next, and was fun, though it was a little low on photo ops…

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And then, because everything else closes at 5 pm, and it stays open until a bedtime-busting 7:30 pm, we headed over to the American Museum of Natural History! What a pick-me-up! The kids were delighted, and led the way at their own pace through the first-floor exhibits, darting from “Wow, look at this!” to “Did you see that?! Did you see that?!” with wide-eyed enthusiasm.

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We shut down the Natural History Museum. And rode back on the subway. Where the kids, tired though they were, once again amazed me with their excitement over riding “the longest escalator ever! I’ve been looking forward to this all day!” And then a quick bite in the hotel room. And then 30 minutes of promised time in the hotel pool. And then a tuckered-out family after a big Day 1!

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