Thankfully the weather was very good today… A little too good. I am now a very nice shade of red thanks to the beautiful sunny day we were given. Nevertheless, I will not let my sunburn get me down after my wonderful day exploring.
My goal for today was to visit Arlington Cemetery and I can now say that goal has been met successfully! At any given time withing the cemetery you can look around you and in all directions you will find the white headstones. It is a humbling experience. As I walked throughout, the number of headstones with “Unknown” written upon them was astounding. Knowing that there were people who didn’t have the opportunity to put their loved ones to rest is extremely saddening. At least twice throughout the day, I heard shots fired as more individuals were laid to rest.
My first stop in Arlington Cemetery was the Women in Military Service for America Memorial, which was beautiful on the outside. On the front was a beautiful water fountain and pool in an arch shape. Stairways throughout led to a balcony of sorts on the top of the memorial, where quotes were engraved into the glass of the ceiling of the building. Inside were different exhibits dedicated to different time periods and branches of the military. However the part that impacted me the most was the hanging keys. Each key represented a woman who died in action. It was a very eye-opening exhibit.
As I traveled deeper into the cemetery, I came to the John F. Kennedy Memorial and burial site. Here I found slabs of marble with quotes engraved and many, many school groups. Moving further up the hill, I came to the Arlington House, which serves as the Robert E. Lee Memorial. After I had taken a quick tour of the inside of the house, I walked out to explore more of the grounds only to be scared half to death. All at once an alarm began sounding and what sounded to be small explosions began occurring. After a good minute, the alarm cut off and I no longer heard the explosion sounds. Come to find out, the alarm was for the basement of the Arlington House. However I never found out what the explosion noise was.
After a few smaller memorials, I found myself at The Tomb of The Unknown Soldier, just in time for the changing of the guards. The respect was evident in the silence of the crowd. Once the guards had traded places, I journeyed inside the memorial, where I was greeted by an information overload. Honorary metals from numerous nations have been presented to the unknown soldier. The decoration of the unknown soldiers tomb had a part in the creation of Memorial Day (which is only a few days away!).
By 11:30 A.M. I had walked 5 miles, according to my Fitbit, which explained why my feet were aching so early in the day. However I was bound to see as much as possible before the day was up. So I persevered. My next stop was the Iwo Jima Monument and Marine Memorial. The iconic statue of the marines erecting the U.S. flag did not disappoint!
Seeing all that I could in Arlington, I walked the bridge to D.C. and began my exploration. The first monument I came to was the Korean War Memorial. The Korean War Memorial consisted of numerous statues of soldiers and a small pool of water. The highlight of this specific stop though was several soldiers whom had served in the Korean War, who were visiting the Monument.
Next stop – Lincoln Memorial! A short walk later, I made my way to the Lincoln Memorial, where I was greeted by what seemed to be 200 middle schoolers. Needless to say, my visit was short and to the point. A few pictures later, I was on my way and on the search for food.
After a quick bite to eat, I made my way to the WWII Memorial. I spent a little more time here than elsewhere, because it was simply too beautiful to leave. However I began feeling slightly parched and then went in search of water to quench my thirst. With water in hand, and sweat dripping off my forehead, I began my search for air conditioning. Stumbling upon the Freer-Sackler Gallery, I ducked inside for some much needed cool air. I now understand why people sit and observe artwork. It’s because their feet hurt from walking nearly seven miles and they have sweat rolling down their back. Needless to say, I spent quite a bit of time meandering around the museum and appreciating the various pieces of art and air conditioning.
Once I had seen all there was to see of the exhibits, I made my way outside to enjoy the Enid A. Haupt Garden. I lost sight of time while enjoying the beautiful flowers and trees in the garden, and then quickly realized it was time to head back to my home away from home. A short walk later I was on the metro and headed back to the apartment.
Day 4: A little crispy, but the day was a success! Over 25,000 steps (10 miles) today, which explains why I am taking an Aleve and going to bed. Looking forward to tomorrow!