On Day 5, we were going to use our second day of the Hop On Hop Off Tour and visit Arlington National Cemetary, plus attend the Capitol Concert dress rehearsal. We started the day, by parking again at the hospital garage near Union Station. While riding the bus to Arlington, we caught some of the sights and preparations for the July 4th celebration tomorrow. The police were out on horseback, a high school band playing at the Martin Luther King Memorial, and the Potomac River.
Our bus ticket included the tram ride in Arlington. There is a security checkpoint inside the visitor center. It was an extremely hot day and the line for the tram was very long.
We decided to walk to the Kennedy gravesites. It sits in a spot with a beautiful view of the Mall. It is the most visited gravesite in Arlington and as such, the site had to be expanded. It now covers 3.2 acres with wide granite walkways. The low wall in front of his grave is inscribed with his inaugural address. Those buried here are President John F. Kennedy, his wife Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and their two infant children.
The Kennedy graves sit below Arlington House, during the Civil War this was a strategic place since it sat high on a hill over-looking Washington. This was a home built by George Washington Parke Custis. Robert E. Lee had married Custis’ daughter and lived in the house for 30 years before the war. However, due to Robert E. Lee choosing to support the state of Virginia in joining the Confederacy during the Civil War, the grounds of Arlington House became a cemetery so that the home could not be occupied after the war. Kind of a slap towards Lee. In spite of this, Robert E. Lee went to great lengths using his leadership and influence to reunite the country. In 1955, Congress changed Arlington House to the Robert E Lee Memorial, honoring his work after the war.
We continued our walk to the Tomb of Unknown Soldier.
The Tomb is located on the Washington side of the Memorial Amphitheater. It was dedicated in 1920, and it hosts 3 important services each year…Easter, Memorial Day, and Veterans Day.
During the summer, the changing of the guards is conducted every half hour. We just missed the ceremony, so walked through the visitor center. It had many interesting displays about the construction of the tomb as well as the circumstances surrounding the soldiers buried there.
We found a seat near the front, everyone looks grumpy because it was humid and HOT!!!
There is one guard at the tomb at all times. The guard wears white gloves to prevent losing the grip on the rifle. He takes 21 steps pauses for 21 seconds, does an about face then walks back 21 steps and repeats the process. The “21” is in honor of the 21 gun salute. The guard ensures that there be respect and security at one of the nation’s most sacred symbols.
The changing of the Guards is a very solemn ceremony.
We boarded the tram to continue our tour of Arlington. It was hot and poor Wyatt was looking abit tired. The tram driver noticed him and handed him a cold water through the window.
As we rode on the tram and looked at all of the graves, you couldn’t help but feel a bit patriotic for the sacrifices these individuals had made.
We passed the James Tanner Amphitheater. This was the original amphitheater was built in 1873 for the Decoration Day services, now known as Memorial Day. The name was changed in 2014 in honor of President Lincoln’s stenographer and a Civil War veteran. He is buried nearby
Arlington Cemetery is in a very wooded area, making it very peaceful.
We got off at tram stop 18 for the Marine Corps War Memorial. We had a great view for Washington DC.
On the short walk to the Marine Corps War Memorial you walk outside of the cemetery boundaries. You pass the Netherlands Carillon. A Gift given in 1954 as a gift to the people of the United States for its aid during and after World War II. It’s 49 bells were moved to this new tower in 1960, with a 50th bell added in 1995. The total weight of the bells is 28 metric tons. Each bell is comprised of 4/5 copper and 1/5 tin. Every bell has an emblem for a group in Dutch society as well as poetic verses.Each year, tulips are planted in the surrounding flower beds.
The Marine Corps War Memorial is also known as the Iwo Jima Memorial as the statue was inspired by the famous photo taken during the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II. The Memorial is in honor of all the Marines who have given their lives in service since 1775.
It was dedicated on November 10, 1954 and is one of the largest bronze statues in the world.
We walked back into the cemetery through security. The trams were all very full and we tried coaxing the passengers to get off by telling them how awesome the Marine Corps War Memorial was…due to the heat, no one wanted to get off. So we continued our walk through the cemetery, which we decided was better than the tram ride. You could truly feel the peacefulness of area.
Near the tram boarding area is the Women in Military Service to America Memorial.
We hopped back onto the transfer bus and drove back to the Mall.
Once off the transfer bus, we walked to the Korean War Veterans Memorial, which was dedicated in July of 1995. It has a beautiful water feature, known as the Pool of Remembrance.
Near the reflecting pool is a wall containing statistics of the war.
There are 19 life-size statues of soldiers as if they are walking through a field.
There is a wall that has over 2,400 images of the Korean war, it also reflects the 19 soldier statues images. This is symbolic, as the 19 statues plus the 19 reflection equals 38, which represents the 38th Parallel as well as the 38 months of the war length.
We walked to the nearby Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which covers 2 acres and was established in 1982. There are three parts to the memorial, the first part completed was the wall. It is made up of two 246 foot walls that are sunken into the ground. It has a right angle design that is said to represent a wound that is closed and healing. There are 144 panels that contain the names of the official number of Vietnam deaths or whose status is unknown (MIA)
There is an onsite, self-serve directory that can be used to locate an individual. The directory will list which panel the name appears on.
There are many remembrances that are left at the memorial.
The second part added is the Three Soldiers statue. It was unveiled on Veterans Day in 1984.
The third part is Vietnam Women’s Memorial, dedicated to the women who served. A majority of which were nurses which is represented in the memorial. It was dedicated in 1993.
In the same area as the Korean and Vietnam Memorials is the Lincoln Memorial and the Reflecting Pool. This is a great view of the Washington Monument as well as the Capitol in the distance. The Reflecting Pool was fenced off in preparation for the 4th of July fireworks.
The Lincoln Memorial was dedicated in 1922 in honor the 16th president, Abraham Lincoln and has a Greek temple design. The memorial has 36 columns representing the states in the Union at the time of his death.
Beneath the memorial there is a small museum with information concerning the construction as well as a pictorial collage of famous events that have occured at the Lincoln Memorial. Many important speeches have been given on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The most famous was Martin Luther King’s on August 28, 1963.
The statue of a sitting Abraham Lincoln is 19 feet tall. One of his hands is clenched which represents his strength and determination to preserve the nation. The other hand is resting flat representing his compassionate side.
The walls are inscribed with Lincoln’s 2nd Inaugural address and his Gettysburg Address.
With the visit to the Lincoln Memorial, Whitney and Wyatt were able to complete the National Mall and Memorial Parks Jr Ranger requirements and receive their badge. Woohoo!!!
We got back on the Hop On bus getting off near the Capitol. We walked pass the Newseum Museum. Outside, the current front page of over 80 newspapers are displayed.
On our trip last year along the Alaska Highway through Canada, we learned that a red chair means something of interest. So when we saw one in front of the Canadian embassy, curiosity got the best of us. We thought it would be a view, but the red chairs sit in a large domed gazebo that has perfect acoustics when sitting in the chairs.
We were headed to the Capitol for the concert rehearsal when an unusual squirrel caught our eye. We had never seen a white squirrel before.
We wanted to attend the concert that is held on July 4th on the lawn in front of the Capitol Building. However, the best place to watch the fireworks is in front of the Washington Memorial. So we decided to attend the rehearsal of the concert on the evening of the 3rd. We got there early, found a great seat and enjoyed just sitting…
But then came the announcement that there was a severe thunderstorm in the area and we needed to evacuate immediately. We looked at the weather forecast and it looked like the storm was going to miss us, but when a Capitol guard tells you to leave, you leave. We left Jodi and Wade to stand back in line while we walked to a nearby McDonald’s to grab dinner. Whitney and Wyatt were excited about 40 chicken nuggets. With the all-clear given for the weather we walked back to the Capitol and settled in for the second time, but Wyatt got a bit bored.
The lawn area filled up fast, can’t imagine how crowded it would on the 4th of July.
The concert featured John Stamos as an emcee
There was a small stage in front of us as well as the large stage. Just a few of the acts were Pentatonix, The Temptations, Luke Combs and CeCe Winans.
Our favorite was the Beach Boys.
Before the concert they had asked for people from towns not near Washington DC, to come up and have a poster made. During one of the songs, you were to stand up with your poster and show your hometown. John Stamos kept trying to pronounce Oskaloosa.
As we were walking into the concert area, we noticed a Musco Lighting truck. This is a company in Oskaloosa, Iowa that specializes in temporary lights for special events. After the concert, we walked over to the truck and the driver gave Whitney and Wyatt a tour.
It had been another full day of activities and adventure. What a great way to end the night…at the foot of our nation’s Capitol.