As soon as I saw it, I curled my fingers into a fist, and raised my middle finger. Of course, I kept my hand safely tucked against my stomach, for fear of an onslaught of bullets from nearby rooftops. That's how I greeted the White House today, as I made a promise to myself to flip off George Bush.
And so I did, and it felt good.
But aside from all that, wow. Today was... well, there aren't really words to describe today. I successfully saw everything I came to D.C. to see (aside from the Marine Corps Marathon, obviously).
After navigating public transit, our first stop was Starbucks. One grande skim caramel machiatto later, I was ready for business. And that business included walking past and around the White House. I don't know how to describe it except insignificant. I expected a huge presence. Some large structure in a secluded area of the city. But no. It was just right there, squat in the middle of the city. Just, like, hangin' out. And it was awesome. PRESIDENTS live there. And it was just, you know, there. For me to look at. It looked quite small, actually. Almost unimpressive, but at the same time, not. If that makes sense.
We ventured around to the back of the White House, and got a view of the, uh, backyard, if that's what you can call a space that encompasses, like, four square blocks of space.
D.C. is amazing because everything is just right there. You can stand in one place and almost see every monument and every significant structure. From the White House we strolled past the Washington Monument, I curled up on a park bench, we walked through the World War II Memorial and I dipped my hand in the reflection pool and climbed the stairs to see Abe sitting in the Lincoln Memorial. He's huuuuge, by the way.
From atop the Lincoln Memorial you can look out onto the reflection pond and the World War II Memorial and the Washington Monument, which is really no surprise because it's as if every structure is precisely located in a way that holds the most incredible view.
I stood on the place where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his "I have a dream..." speech and walked the same steps as countless influential figures of the country's past. Of course, I had a bit of a limp, what with sore muscles and all. And it was raining. And cold. And so not as moving as maybe it would've been on a beautiful fall day, but still, people. So cool.
We walked along the Vietnam Wall and through the Korean War Memorial, and I documented all of this with photos. Because why wouldn't I? I'm a camera whore. So you just wait until I upload those bad boys.
At the Vietnam Wall I peeked at some of the items that were left along the wall in gratitude of the Vets, and found that someone left their finishers medal from the marathon, and I immediately felt like a selfish asshole. A letter accompanied the medal that said something along the lines of, "You deserve this more than me..." And that's when I reminded myself that I'm not the center of the universe.
Another letter was to a man's brother, and it went on to say that he dedicated every mile of the marathon to him, and that he ran the race with his daughter, "who you would've loved," the letter read. Sob.
As if those memorials weren't somber enough, we went straight to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which left me wanting to cut myself. It was unbelievable - the artifacts and stories and photos. How any of that could have actually happened is beyond me.
And because words escape me, I'll just say this: Hitler is a dick.
We were very nearly approaching the end of our escapade after that, so we hopped on the Metro and went straight to Arlington Cemetery before it closed at 5 p.m. I was not going to leave this city without seeing JFK's grave site or the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
By this point there was a steady stream of rain, and we were soaked and cold. It was almost fitting, walking through a cemetery. That place is enormous, and so full of history, and morbidly, as I reminded myself, bodies.
We made a beeline straight for JFK, and I'll say it was a little strange to be there, right where he was buried. I've always been morbidly fascinated with cemeteries, and this was like the ultimate. Of course the eternal flame was there. Burning. Eternally. Despite the cost of gas. Impressive. And a security guard stood by, guarding.
It's mind-blowing to think of how historical that cemetery is. I still can't wrap my head around it.
We left Kennedy's site at 4:51, and we had nine minutes to get to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier before the cemetery closed. I was on a mission, so I ran through the cold and rain and made it just in time for the changing of the guard, which is such a meticulate, sacred ceremony. The history behind it is awesome. Look it up. And someone is standing guard there 24 hours a day, which I can't believe.
So we stood in the pouring rain and watched it happen.
I loved every second of the afternoon. I really believe everyone should make it to D.C. at some point in their life, whether they're interested in history, or not. I feel very accomplished after today, and surprisingly, have a better appreciation of the country.
Look at me, all patriotic.
So, there's more to tell about the weekend, but right now I'm tired. And borderline crabby. And more than ready to go home to the comforts of my small room and kitty cats.
Until then, farewell.