In the Part 1 article about our visit to Washington, DC, I focused on our visit to the US Capitol and to the Library of Congress. In this article (pics) I will simply review some of the museums and monuments we visited. Once again, I can’t possibly provide much detail about these visits since there is simply too much. Where possible and when our timing permitted we took advantage of the free tours provided at most of the museums. These are intended to introduce you to some of the main exhibits and to familiarize you with the organization of the museum so that you can better plan your time there.
On the same day that we toured the Capitol and Library of Congress we went to the National Air and Space Museum. We were able to join a tour that had just begun when we arrived. The guide spent almost 2 hours taking us through the history of flight from the Wright brothers through manned space travel and moon landings. Before finishing the day we stopped in the Smithsonian Information Center which is in a building referred to as “the castle”. The was the first Smithsonian building which was constructed beginning in 1847. There is a crypt in the building containing the remains of James Smithson, a British citizen who was the founding donor of the Smithsonian Institution even though he never visited the United States.
When we returned the next day, we began by visiting the World War II Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. On the way to view the White House we stopped off at the National Christmas tree. The current tree is a live Blue Spruce transplanted here from northwestern Virginia in October 2012. Surrounding it are small trees representing each state. On this day we also visited the National Museum of American and the Natural History Museum each of which you could easily commit a full day to touring.
On another day we drove out to the Dulles Airport, a bit to the west in Virginia to visit the newest part of the Air and Space Museum, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. This branch of the museum has 4 or 5 times the number of major artifacts as compared to the museum on the mall in Washington. It was built to handle some of the largest items such as the space shuttle Discovery, a Concorde SST, a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird and the “Enola Gay”.
We also visited Arlington National Cemetery. We parked at the Iwo Jima Memorial (Marine Corps War Memorial) and walked through the cemetery to view the Kennedy’s Eternal Flame site and to watch the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This is a very powerful ceremony that everyone should witness. The tomb has been guarded 24 hours per day continuously since 1937.