Saturday, March 31, 2007

DC in Spring Right Now Is Sprouting Cherry Blossoms and Eighth Graders

Posted by Alan Childress

514076_cherry_tree_pathWashington, D.C. this very week features an explosion of beautiful Japanese cherry blossoms and an even more overwhelming explosion of 8th graders here on their school trips.  They're everywhere.  Their tourbuses create gridlock.  They are standing in front of the White House -- all on cellphones.  They climb on the WH fence not appreciating that two weeks ago the whole area shut down for four hours after one man tried to climb over it.  They stream in and out of 'The House Where Lincoln Logo_2Died' (next to a t-shirt shop).  They swarm the Pentagon City Mall, as if (for some) their homestate of Minnesota lacks a mall in America.  They pretend their dad is a stranger in front of their friends.  But they learn a ton of history and civics.  Me too, following one of them for just a little bit.  I already knew that D.C. has lots of fantastic sites and memorials, and free museums (subsidized in part by the $8 McDonald's meal perhaps).  The International Spy Museum is not free but is worth it.  Obviously the free Air and Space Museum is great, but did you know they have an even bigger facility--a show-hangar really--out by Dulles?

Img_1084 This week, I learned the name of the unknown soldier from Vietnam.  He is -- forensic DNA much later confirmed -- named Michael J. Blassie, USAF, and his story is fascinating.  The Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery, in Virginia, lies just below Robert E. Lee's house (confiscated, D.C. tourguides say, for Img_1101 failing to pay $91 in taxes [not for leading an Army against the government?]), and is solemn and magnificent.  The changing of the guards procedure is intricate and awesome.  Here are my photos of four students from St. George's Episcopal School in New Orleans laying a wreath at the tomb in a ceremony following the changing of the guards.  They are Nia La Branche, Celeste Cahn, Steven Img_1108 Childress, and Gunner Moffatt, led by Sgt. Cook.  [A great group photo {View this photo} was also taken in the cemetery's amphitheatre just after the ceremony; it is not mine, but borrowed from school website.]  Click on any photo to enlarge.

The cemetery is amazing and just across the Potomac from the Lincoln Memorial.  I fear a headline, "Toll Brothers Eyeing Rolling Cemetery Site for New McMansions."

Beautiful ceremony.  Proud of you guys.

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This brings me back to when I was that youngster touring D.C. and climbing fences I was not supposed to go near. I actually fell in love with this city on a "Close-up D.C." trip about 14 years ago. Never would have guessed I'd end up here!

Posted by: Law-Rah | Apr 1, 2007 12:39:31 AM

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