Notes from Washington D.C. II

 

We completed our tour of the National Gallery on Wednesday, then went to the National Museum of American History. We had gone to that museum in 2005, and had fond memories of a tremendous assortment of stuff, from Julia Child’s kitchen to the Star Spangled Banner from the War of 1812. We were very disappointed. The museum is undergoing major renovations, and many of the exhibits won’t be finished until 2018. The ones that are open have become dark corridors that lead from one noisy exhibit to another, so that you hear a cacophony of narratives at all times. It seems to be geared to a generation with about a five-second attention span. We left after less than an hour. We had intended to spend the rest of the day there.

So, we went to the United States Holocaust memorial. That was difficult to see, but well worth seeing. The first part describes the rise of the Nazis through video and historical artifacts. I couldn’t help thinking at the time how similar some of the Nazi tactics are to Trump’s. Blame the problems of society on one group, the Jews, rather than the economic policies. Repeat a lie so often it is accepted as the truth. Play on the fears and frustrations of the “poorly educated”, and assure them that you have the answers, and will be a strong leader to cure all of society’s ills.

I think the thing I will most remember from the museum is not the pictures of the bodies, and emaciated survivors, or the piles of shoes and wall of hair from the victims. No, I think what I will remember most is walking through one of the freight cars where people were packed like sardines to be transported to the death camps.

Last night we had the best meal of the trip at an organic restaurant, just two blocks away from our Bed and Breakfast—excuse me, our “boutique” hotel. The restaurant claimed to be the first organic restaurant in the country. Because we’re in Embassy Row, there were at least five different languages spoken, that I could hear from our table.

Our hotel serves breakfast around a large dining table. The hostess makes sure everyone is introduced. We have Danes, an Austrian, Aussies, English, as well as fellow Californians, albeit Northern Californians. After some opening gambits of conversation, it soon became apparent that everyone staying here is pretty strongly anti-Trump. One lady from the Bay area, said we felt like apologizing to the rest of the world for even considering such a person for president.

Today we walked to the Jefferson Memorial, around the Tidal Basin back to the F.D. Roosevelt Memorial, and the Martin Luther King Memorial, over to the WWII memorial, up to the Korean War Veterans’ Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Vietnam Memorial. If you haven’t visited all of these, do so if you ever get the chance. We had seen most of the memorials before, but the Martin Luther King and WWII memorial have been built since we were last here, so we hadn’t seen them except in pictures. The WWII memorial is very beautiful. While we were there a group of WWII and Korean War veterans from Indiana were having their picture taken. The first two rows were in wheel chairs—a painful reminder that we are rapidly losing that generation—any left would have to be in their late 80’s or older. We took our time, but it was still a bit of a walk, and by the time we found a nice cafe in a hotel on Virginia Ave., I was ready for a break. So, after lunch, I walked to the Metro station at George Washington University, and Roger went off to see the Cocoran Gallery of art.  I had just started a cup of tea in the sitting room of the hotel, when Roger came through the front door. Turns out the Cocoran was closed for renovation. Lots of renovating going on in this town. Too bad the spirit of renewal hasn’t spread to the halls of Congress.

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