Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Glorious Day--Finishing DC in Style

Almost our entire stay in DC, high temperatures remained in the 50s, and lows in the 30s, in what seemed an interminable postponement of spring. Flowers and blossoms clung to their cocoons against the late season cold, prolonging the bare-bones look of winter in the capital.

Two days before we left, temperatures soared into the 80s, and the blossoms burst from their shells in an explosion of color and freedom.  Never having seen the tidal basin with cherry blossoms in full, despite my many years living here, I woke at an unspeakable east coast hour to see what the heat would bring. It was glorious.

The whole trip would have been worth this one morning for me.  I walked around the basin twice, appreciating the knotty age of these precious trees.  How can anyone look at a cherry blossom and not believe in God?  Why would an unfeeling, uncaring, random universe ever bother with this burst of fragile color and softness?

Even the busy professionals of this driven town seemed to take a deep, pausing breath at this amazing spectacle. People wandered slowly, chatting happily, even stopping to sit on the way to work, as this young woman did, just to inhale life for a moment.  What a way to start the end of our trip.

From there, it was back to the hotel to pick up the kids and head for the senate office building and Senator Mike Lee's office, where we picked up a personal guide for our tour of the Capitol building.  

While not soft or fragile, the Capitol building is nonetheless a wonder and beauty.

The Capitol Dome is an ode to Washington, with the painting in the very top, called the Apotheosis of Washington, showing him as nearly divine, such is the stature in which he was and is held.

The detail is amazing, you could spend hours here, just learning about each little piece.

Here are the kids, in the basement right under the dome, standing at the very center of Washington DC. They thought it was pretty cool.

The dome is not the only ornate aspect of the building. The photo above shows the ceiling of the original home of the House of Representatives, and below is the somber original home of the Supreme Court.

 From there it was across the street to the current home of the high court, dealing with very hard societal issues these days.

Next door was the Library of Congress' Jefferson building, itself a wonder.

Believe it or not, those two ceilings are not even the most elaborate ones in the building, but we could not get into the main floor, which apparently is reserved for the staffs of our various representatives.

After that, it was time for lunch, and where better to get that than the renovated Union Station, familiar stomping grounds for a graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center.

Afterward, we wondered down to my old stomping ground, the Law Center itself. Here are Kath and the kids standing across the street from the McDonough building, where I spent so many hours just trying to keep my head above water.

After that, I decided the kids and my sweetie needed to see the tidal basin blossoms, so we headed back to see the Jefferson, MLK, and FDR memorials.

I regret to note that Kate has, since this photo, cut off most of that glorious red hair. Hope it grows back one day.

Here is Kate in front of Mr. Jefferson.  I know I have remarked on this before, but you almost can't find a scholarly study these days that doesn't whisper, in some form, "you know, he wasn't really that religious" or "Jefferson didn't really believe in God."  I grow so tired of the left's unfounded antagonism toward religion and the holier than thou, 'if you disagree with me you must be ignorant' attitude with which it is often delivered. Read these statements, three of the four enshrined in Jefferson's memorial, and tell me if Shakespeare wouldn't note that they "protest too much" about Jefferson and his religious views.

 No belief in God there. Not a bit.  Converting freedom of religion to freedom from religion is one of the great lies of our day, particularly when it involves rewriting the history of our great men. We need to make a comfortable place for religion in the public square. It was there when our nation was birthed by men wiser than any I know in this day. Who are we to remove it?

Ok, I will get off my soapbox now. Sorry about that. Pet peeves are hard to let go of sometimes.

Like the Lincoln, the Jefferson is in appearance and feel a temple.  What a great place to hang out, and think about the bright mind that has blessed us all these many years later.

Keegan is not much for the deep philosophical debates, but find him a cherry tree and a river, and he is in his element.

So grateful that my kids really seem to like each other.  We had such a great time together, with almost no discord that I can remember. Lucky dad.

It is absolutely rare to see Keegan (here scrambling up rocks at the FDR Memorial) without a smile this big on his face. I don't know of a happier person, more full of joy and life.  What a great little guy.

I think it may be impossible for him to get any more handsome.  He is such a good boy.  I am blessed.

I love that Jefferson is joined on the tidal basin by Martin Luther King. I believe the former would have had ultimate respect for the latter, and likely smiled in his grave at what MLK was able to accomplish for our African American people. I'd like to think it lifted a great burden from Jefferson's heart.

Here is a last view of the Washington Monument from the FDR Memorial.  The former is still shaken from the rare earthquake a year or so ago, hence the scaffolding. Maybe symbolic in some ways of our country and its capital.  Division and discord have shaken it lately, fanned by politicians more intent on divide and topple than unite and rise up.  Sometimes, even foundations seem in jeopardy. But somehow, we still stand, held together by the mortar of common folk of decent sensibility, who refuse to take for granted the miracle of freedom and of this diverse, dynamic, amazing land.  For that reason, I am confident that this great country will continue to stand tall, despite the occasional crack and need for bracing.  It is still the best thing in the world to be an American, warts and all.

On our way out of town the next day, we stopped by two last places.  First, the apartment where Kathleen and I lived after we were first married.  This is an earlier picture, as we didn't have time for one on this trip, but it seemed wrong to conclude this post without it.  I still have memories of that Magnolia tree and its blossoms, with squirrels flitting about it and onto our window sill on the second floor.

Second, we spent several hours at the Udvar Hazy hangar of the Air and Space Museum. Quintessential America on display here -- first generation immigrant, gets educated, works hard, makes a fortune, and donates it to help house one of America's great contributions to the world -- the gift of flight, in all its graceful and ferocious beauty.  If you haven't ever stopped by, no one with even a remote interest in planes or history should miss it.  Just a great place, to cap off a great trip.

Here he is, Keegan Andrew.  That plane, by the way, is not an SR71, but is a transformer known as Jetfire.  Just need to make sure you have your facts straight.

Alden really wanted pictures of all these machine guns.

Kids with an F-14.  We have a neighbor who flew these off a carrier. Top Gun or not, that is impressive, particularly when you see how big they are.

The kids spontaneously sported peace signs in front of the Enola Gay when I asked them to pose. Seems appropriate, no?  Certainly hope that peace keeps us from ever having to send a plane on a mission like that again.

We have another neighbor and family friend who flew this plane in the Korean War. We really love Bob, he has been a big influence in our lives.

Seemed appropriate to finally end this post with a picture of the shuttle. It is so huge, and represents so much about our proud country.  What a great, great trip.