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Monument Day

Fairfax, United States

Yesterday was a HUGE day. To start with I woke up at what my body considered to be 3am, but which locally was 7:30am. In fact here I am here looking tired and scruffy. And also sideways. Whatever. I am experimenting with embedding photos – tell me if they take to long to load, or they’re boring, and I’ll stop. Anyway, you agree with me I look terrible. I looked better after Bagels and some tea, before embarking on my great adventure around the United States Capital!

I left on the metro due to the kind help of Gigi and Steve, and headed in to the centre of town (‘the Mall’) for all those things to look at! I didn't realise it would be so hard to AVOID tripping over a famous monument. They made it awfully convenient for visitors, but you do begin to get jaded with fantasmic things after a while.

Anyway, I left with some sort of plan to see the Air and Space Museum, but walked the wrong way from the stop and ended up outside this grim looking building with a huge line outside. That looked promising, so I tacked myself on the end of it.

It turned out it was the Holocaust museum, and is incredibly famous. A funny story about the Holocaust museum, or as close to funny as you can get after actually seeing the stuff in there, was that I rocked up to the building not realising there is always a massive line, not just to get inside through security, but also to get inside the exhibits full stop. So I went up to the reception to get a ticket (there were hundreds of people), and this sign said to present your military or federal ID if you had it. I figured you had to pay to get in (which you don't), and that being a military person gave you some sort of discount, so I pulled out my New Zealand Army ID in the hope that would work. The lady at the front desk looked at it, blinked, looked at it again and gave me a ticket to go up straight away, jumping over the people in the wait-list, the people who had tickets that said they could go in at that time, and even jumping to the head of the line to take the elevator. It turns out that New Zealand liberated a concentration camp and the people at the desk give priority to members of forces that did that. I looked like a student though, so I got some amazingly dirty looks from the people who had been there for ages but hadn't been able to get tickets. It was an interesting museum, in a horrible way. I was pleased and not pleased at the same time to be in that building, which was a strange feeling at the time, but even more so now that I'm trying to remember what it was like. Anyway.

After I got out, I was a little lost, so I strolled down the street and around the corner. The Washington Memorial basically demanded my attention after that.

The thing is MASSIVE and the line outside to go up was just silly. I figured that my magic New Zealand Army ID wasn't going to cut it this time, so I wandered up the left-hand pathway that leads around the area. It’s just a tall building anyway – when I get to New York there will be plenty of those.

The next thing I saw was the new World War Two memorial. It's cool. What more can you say? It’s a little overdone, any it feels almost self-conscious in its attempts to tie-in to the neo-classical feel of all the other monuments. As I walked past it and the reflecting pool towards the Lincoln Monument, I was beginning to get used to it, but it took me a little while.

The Lincoln memorial was awesome. It is apparently really good at night, but it was pretty nippy there during the day, so I didn't hang round to admire Abe much. If you look at my photos, you'll notice all the water is frozen. Yes. Hmmm.

Next I visited the Vietnam memorial, which is overhyped. I’m not saying it wasn’t a little moving, but it wasn't great like they say it is.

Perhaps what was missing was the people who were genuinely there to grieve, because while I was there all there was were a bunch of war protesters. Felt just like Berkeley, only less appropriate.

The Korea memorial was much, much, MUCH better. It has files and files of statues, each kitted out in a different allied countries’ battle gear, also marching in the same direction and with their names engraved into the granite. It is very cool, and I hung around there longer than I meant too


After that was the Roosevelt memorial, which I ran into on the way to the Jefferson memorial. Both were awesome, and the Roosevelt one, which made copious use of flowing water, was totally frozen. It was also totally at odds with reality, portraying the man as honest, caring and kind. He lied about having polio for 10 years, to the entire country!! Moving along.
Jefferson's words, engraved around the edge of the building's dome, seemed to me to be admitting grand theft, but it might be impolitic of me to point that out. I certainly wasn't going to point it out there with all those patriotic Americans around! I did laugh a little though. It all turned out well in the end.

Then I ran into the John Paul Jones memorial. Long story, but a cool monument. Dad might fil you in if you ask nicely.

I know it seems like I went everywhere, and yes. Yes I did. Here is the White House from the back

, here is the Sherman monument,and here is me being nice and warm with Washington’s Memorial in the background.

AEROSPACE MUSEUM! Oh yeah baby! They had the American history Smithsonian closed for renovation, so all that stuff was in the Aerospace as well. Gold. Here is Sherman’s Hat.

Americans are so funny - they had Edison's light bulb, then the original telegraph, Bell's telephone, and then... Kermit the Frog. I laughed, but no one else did. Eee.

They had the REAL Columbia Command Module from Apollo 11, they had the Enola Gay hanging from the roof, they had everything and ANYTHING they could lay their hands on displayed in its glory. I was thrilled. I spent three hours there. I could go back, but won't, because I'd never leave. Here is a real FE-8 pusher biplane from the First World War, with a Spoilt Camel in the background.

I also went to the White House information centre, and then went home to spend productive time on a Wii.

Please think of my friends the West Coast this week - they got wacked by a huge storm. One was without power or communication when a tree toppled over the power-line onto the cell phone tower. They live in an orcharding area and apparently some have lost 50% of their trees. One has had a neighbour lose her house when a tree fell through it. A couple haven't responded to my emails or call, so I'm a little worried about that. I might cut this trip short if they need some help with the clean-up.

Cheers Team

permalink written by  Crosswood on January 6, 2008 from Fairfax, United States
from the travel blog: New Zealand Student, American University.
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What a day!

permalink written by  Juliet on January 6, 2008

I remember some of those monuments! Tough they were not frozen at the time, that sounds awesome.

Useful little military card huh? You should have pinned it to your hat and worn your uniform. End of dirty looks.

permalink written by  Rebecca Harris on January 6, 2008

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Crosswood Crosswood
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I am a second year Officer Cadet in the Royal New Zealand Army, going for a trip to Berkeley (University of California) in the United States. I have a sense of humour, poor organisational skills, and collect clocks.
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