Thursday, October 17, 2013

Washington D.C. Part 7: The Heritage of the Past

After spending the morning at the Holocaust Museum (which is, hands down, the most powerful and best put together museum I've ever been to), I craved a lighter and a little less sobering afternoon.  I ate at Panera Bread with Hannah in Chinatown and then headed down to the National Portrait Gallery.  As it turns out, the presidential portrait gallery is in the same building as the National Art Gallery or whatever it's called.  All I know is I spent the first hour inside the building wandering around looking at a bunch of art I didn't care about.  (Sorry, art lovers.  I get very little enjoyment out of staring at weirdly-shaped sculptures and looking at portraits of people I don't have a clue about.  And if it's a painting of a landscape, it better be pretty with lots of greenery and streams or it's just not worth painting.)  In all of my aimless wandering, I did manage to find a couple of cool specimans.
Portraits of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.
This is a picture of Charles Pinckney whose only real significance to me is that I had to argue points as if I were him in a debate my junior year of high school.
I finally overheard someone ask a guard where the presidential portrait gallery was and, after sufficiently eavesdropping on their conversation, I quickly made my way over to the section I actually went there to see.  I really loved this section of the gallery.  It was interesting to see how each of the presidents were portrayed in their portraits.  And after a long day of endless walking, it was nice to sit down in a comfy chair and watch and listen to iconic speeches from several presidents over the years.

Because I got a little lost amongst America's greatest art projects, I ended up spending the entire afternoon in the gallery.  Before I knew it, it was time to go meet up with Hannah again.  We made a dinner reservation in Georgetown and enjoyed a nice meal there that night.  We walked down and sat by the water for a little bit.
The view of D.C. from Georgetown.
 The next morning, I headed to the National Archives to see the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.  I didn't realize until later that I viewed the Constitution on the anniversary of its signing, September 17th.  How awesome is that?!  It was amazing to see the actual founding documents and the signatures of the people who worked so diligently to shape this great nation into the land of the free and the home of the brave.  I walked away with extra motivation to do all I could to keep it that way.

 After meeting up with Hannah for lunch, I took a short walk over to Ford's Theater.  Under the theater, there is a museum dedicated to Lincoln and his presidency.  I learned about quite a few things I hadn't known before, such as the fact that Mary Todd Lincoln, President Lincoln's wife, had siblings who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War.
A quilt signed by the likes of Abraham Lincoln, General Hancock of the Union Army, Ulysses S. Grant, etc.

The gun John Wilkes Booth used to kill Abraham Lincoln.
 We also got to climb the stairs up to the theater to see the presidential box where John Wilkes Booth shot the president. The house that Abraham Lincoln died in is just across the street from the theater.  I was able to stand in the room that Lincoln died in.
The presidential box at the theater.
The house across the street from the theater where Lincoln died.

After touring Ford's Theater, I went back to Hannah's work where I had stored my luggage that morning.  It was time to end my fabulous trip and head back to California. I was sad to leave and not quite ready to get back to normal life but, unfortunately, I had a plane to catch.  Thank you Hannah and Wes for letting me crash at your place and driving me around for a few days so I could enjoy the sites and sounds of the capital!  You were excellent hosts!  (And it's a good thing the government shutdown didn't take place a few weeks earlier or my trip would have been a little less exciting.)  If a good job opportunity opens up over there, I will definitely take it!

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