Published: July 8th 2010July 5th 2010
You know that its going to be an interesting day when the first thing you hear upon waking up in the morning is, "Hey... if it's ok... I might need to go to a medical centre today guys". Those of you who have loved ones travelling with me will be pleased to know that no medical interventions were actually required.
And so we set out, into another ridiculously hot day (around 40 degrees celcius) to once again make the 'short' walk down to the Mall. Washington on the Independance Day public holiday was eerily empty, a different place to where Gez and I had been walking with hundreds of thousands of people just the night before!
As we walked past a rather grand building adorned with lots of patriotic banners, I noticed in big letters "D.A.R.". Donna, do you know what this means? Yes, that's right fellow Gilmore Girls watchers, I have seen the real headquarters of the Daughters of the American Revolution. This organisation actually really exists. I'm pretty sure the boys did not understand my excitement or my need to take photos. Or possibly they just don't want to admit to being Gilmore Girls fans.
past the whitehouse and pausing only to play on some conveniently located statues, we set our sights on the Lincoln Memorial. On the way though I wanted to make a detour to see the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It was quite sobering to see the number of names of people who didn't return from their service in Vietnam. Yet at the same time it was encouraging to see people pausing to pay their respect and teaching their young children to do the same. The memorial itself is made up of two long black walls forming a V. It's very understated, but intended I think to represent the darkness and damage that the conflict did to those who served - whether they returned or not.
The Lincoln Memorial is very close to the Vietnam Vets memorial, a fact which I for one was very grateful to learn given the intense heat (yes, I know I've been complaining about the cold in Sydney for the last few weeks. I'm just looking for a happy medium!). As a group we took the requisite happy snaps of Lincooln and set off on foot once again to visit the American Holocaust Museum.
are ever in Washington, you really have to go to the Holocaust Museum. Because of the volume of visitors that come, you need to get there ahead of time to get a (free) ticket into the main exhibit, and then come back at your allocated time to actually go in. It sounds like a hassle but it is well worth it. Make sure you allow plenty of time though, this is something you don't want to rush. Craig and I got entry to the museum at about 2.45 and had to speed up at the end because it was 6pm and the exhibit was closing. As you could probably imagine the Holocaust Museum is not the kind of place that will put you into a light hearted mood after your visit. It also doesn't make for a lighthearted blog post.
As we entered the exhibit, we were each given the story of a real person who had experienced the holocuast which was a really good way to connect with what we were seeing. I couldn't help but notice so many similiarities to the things that I saw when visiting the S21 prison in Cambodia. S21 was active during the
Fun with statues
Craig demonstrates his broken heart
Pol Pot regime when once again a dictator ordered the murders of millions of people. And this was only decades after the world had said 'never again' to the likes of Hitler. When faced with stuff like that, you can't help but wonder how such things can happen. And to know that some Christian churches in Nazi Germany actually supported Hitler and his return to the 'old values'... well, depressing is hardly a sufficient word. You have to wonder firstly how could they get it so horribly horribly wrong? And secondly, (as my Church History lecturer put it) "what are we doing, or not doing now, that in a hundred years Christians will be shocked and ashamed to hear of?". I was encouraged though to learn that other Christian groups did consistently speak against Hitler, despite the consequences that it had for them.
Seeing the way that genocides have been repeated over and over again, even in fairly recent history (think Nazi Germany, Bosnia, Rwanda, Cambodia and the Sudan just for starters) also makes me wonder what might be happening in the world right now that we just aren't aware of. Could something similiar be happening in places like
North Korea? And more to the point, what are we to do about it? As I said, the Holocaust Museum isn't the place for a light hearted afternoon's entertainment.
By the time we made it to the end of the exhibit Craig and I were both pretty exhausted and decided to call it a day and join the others back at the hotel. We also decided to experience our first American cab ride and save the lengthy walk back. So far I like American cabbies.
Thanks to the overly enthusiastic air con at the Holocaust museum I was freezing cold for most of the rest of the evening, spending the next few hours in a jumper and under a doona while everyone else was dying of the heat. Yes, even I agree this was bizarre, and I have not been allowed to live it down since.
Tomorrow, the road trip continues as we head back for another bite of the Big Apple.
There are more photos below