Thursday, 24 May 2012

More Washington: Things OTHER THAN airplanes

As soon as I can, I'm going to bore the heck out of you with airplane pictures since we spent the last two days mostly in the two Smithsonian Air & Space Museums. However, if I do that first, I may not get to other stuff in Washington, so I'm going to do non-airplane stuff first.

Our walking tour never got us down to the Capitol Building.
Pretty from a distance
By the time we made it up close, it was raining. But it was still mighty pretty.
Nice steps (that you can't go up)
Nice fountain (that wasn't running) 
Nice side lawn (that you weren't allowed on)
Did I mention the Americans are paranoid about security? Still, the views back to the Washington Monument were great.
Setting sun. Storm clouds.
We got into the Smithsonian Museum of American History. I'm still not sure what's supposed to be in this museum. Sure, there's stuff like the original stars and stripes (you know, the one the anthem is based on). But mostly the stuff makes no sense. There's a pop culture room (it's not called that, but it may as well be). It has some really interesting stuff.
The Scarecrow's hat & boots from the Wizard of Oz 
Superman's costume from the 1960's TV series with George Reeve (that I watched) 
The original Muppets, pre-Sesame Street 
Dorothy's red slippers, Oz again 
Kermit. Still a God, now in a plastic case
Archie Bunker's chair. Bob Dylan's jacket.
Plus other stuff, like costumes and props from Casablanca. Perhaps Hollywood is Americana. And then, in the middle of all these displays...
Abe Lincoln's watch?
What, did Abe watch a lot of TV?
Harry Potter's cloak
Now wait a minute. Harry Potter was a book by a British author, and the film was made in England with British actors. How does this belong in the Museum of American History? No, this museum was strange and not at all interesting. A display case in the centre featured Dizzy Gillespie's trumpet and artifacts from Duke Elington's big band. The gift shop sold Beatles t-shirts and CDs. But the museum's musical instrument room contained about 20 instruments from Eurome in the ~1700's, including rare Stradivarius violins. About the only thing interesting thing in the transportation room was a Honda Civic, circa 1975. It was identical to my brothers, except his was gold, and theirs is red. I always thought he was a museum piece...


We also got to Arlington Cemetery. Memorial Day is in 4 days as I write this, so we found American soldiers planting American flags on every one of the 400,000 graves. Every one measured exactly a foot length from the tombstone.
They meet. Rucksacks are filled with flags. Zones are assigned
Note the gentleman in the upper left corner measuring 
One at every grave
We saw the grave of President Kennedy...
With his eternal flame
...and, perhaps more interestingly, of his brothers, Ted and Robert F.
Ted on the left. Bobby on the right.
Ted, of course, served in the Senate for 47 years and died in 2009. Present at the funeral service were President Obama and former Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush (also representing his father, former President George H. W. Bush), along with Vice President Biden, three former Vice Presidents, 58 senators, 21 former senators, many members of the House of Representatives, and several foreign dignitaries. Bobby was assassinated while running for President after serving as the country's Attorney General for 8 years   plus 4 more years as a Senator.

At least they're buried in Arlington.

There's the Canadian Cross in Arlington, which has this as its base.
In honour of US soldiers who served for Canada.
We saw the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which is guarded 24/7, the changing of the guard (which happens every half hour), and the wreath laying ceremony.
The tomb
The Guard's rifle is inspected before the change 
Back and forth 21 paces every 21 seconds

The change
Middle school kids lay a wreath
We saw graves for the Columbia & Challenger shuttle crews, memorials to the Pan Am 103 Lockerbie bombing, and a bunch of others. Arlington is a beautiful cemetery, but as with all cemeteries, there are too many of these:
All they need are poppies
Next post in a few days when I am back on line (maybe): One whole lot of airplanes. We leave Washington tomorrow for the mountains and several days of camping and no connections. But I leave you with this.

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