My husband and I decided to take a guided Tour of Washington, DC through our timeshare affiliation with RCI. We used our timeshare points and took a day trip to Colonial Williamsburg and another day to visit Virginia Beach as well. For the tour of Washington, DC we were told to dress very comfortably, and show up at 5:00 am at the hotel concierge.
We were met by an air-conditioned luxurious tour bus with a very accommodating tour guide. Sal, we learned had been a history teacher, a musician, a restaurant owner and for part time work, he worked either at Williamsburg Colonial Village or acting as a tour guide for the bus company. We was a short man, with a balding head, who had a great sense of humor, was cordial to everyone and was passionate about history.
After making two more stops at other hotels in the area, we were off to the city. We had been told that the morning’s drive in would be bumper to bumper traffic. Before we went into DC, we made a stop at Arlington National Cemetery. My first impression was one of glory. I was awed by the magnitude of it; grave, after grave, row after row. I then was humbled by the meticulous graves, lined up impeccably, honoring all those that have served. I was grateful.
Our tour had been timed so that we were witness to the “Changing of the guard, for the Sentinels of the Tomb of the Unknown”. This tomb is guarded 24/7/365.
Our guide whispered to us that only the elite of the 3rd U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard) services are given the honor of bidding for this job. At first, I thought it seemed wasteful to have the best of the best just standing there, seemingly with nothing to do but I watched and gradually I felt something start to stir inside of me.
The guard stood in perfect stillness, he paced each step as he went to and fro, and then at precisely the right moment, he clicked his heels, drew up his weapon and fired. His movements were practiced, disciplined and unwavering. I caught the symbolism, the strong, the proud and the free. The crowd was remarkably silent through the guard change; even the restless children seemed to sense they were witnessing something special.
Pentagon and other monuments
From there we drove into the city. Sal, the tour guide, gave us all kinds of tidbits of history as we traveled around. We drove by the Pentagon, and then saw the Washington Monument from a distance. We embarked and got a chance to walk a bit as we were again reminded of all those who have fought for this country at the Vietnam Memorial, where we saw the Three Soldiers or Three Servicemen Statue, along with the other memorials to the fallen soldiers. The weather was perfect and we saw own reflections against the many names of those that have lost their lives.
From there, we went to the Lincoln Memorial. I could not help myself as I was standing on the stairs looking outward, with Lincoln at my back; eyes shifted towards the Washington monument. All I could remember as I looked out was the scene from Forest Gump, where Forest is running to meet Jenny and they meet in the pool.
White House and the Smithsonian
We took a ride by the White House and then we given free time at the Smithsonian Institute which actually is home to 19 museums and 9 research centers. Because we only had a few hours, we spent most of our time in the Smithsonian National Air and space museum. At the time I had been working for United Technologies with rocket scientists and airplane design, mechanical and maintenance engineers and had a passion for learning more about the evolution of aerospace and defense .
We also spent some time walking around the Hirschhorn Building and Sculpture Garden. This museum featured artworks, of traditional historical themes. Some of it was abstract, dealing with emotion, abstraction, politics, process, religion, and economics. It had beautiful gardens that I really enjoyed.
Another interest that I have is Masonic symbolism. We learned that many of our forefathers, including George Washington were masons, and that the capitol street layout was designed as a Pentagram. There is so much history, one article is not enough. Suffice it to say, it is absolutely worthwhile to take a trip to see the sights in Washington, DC.
Take the Tour
Don’t go it alone. Taking a guided tour provides an easy, relaxing way to get around, without having to worry about driving, parking and having the car towed. Wear suitable shoes, and get ready for a humbling and gratifying experience. Ask for Sal, he gave us an absolutely delightful trip.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial