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Our Honeymoon

Day 4 - Arlington and Museums

Tuesday was a near overload of visual stimuli, emotional recollection and reflection, and the satisfaction of seeing historic artifacts first-hand. Though we only visited two sites - Arlington Cemetery and the National Air & Space Museum - experiencing them filled up most of our day. After the sightseeing was over, we returned to the hotel and spruced up for dinner with Maya's friend Jen, and Jen's fiancee Brett. I wore my kilt on the subway to meet them, and yes, did receive a few weird looks from the locals. But when you're wearing a kilt, confidence is king, and it didn't bug me.

This is the monument to the women of the Armed Forces, located at the front entrance to Arlington Cemetery.

Here is the famous eternal flame, blazing near the graves of John F. Kennedy, wife Jacquelyn, and two of their children (one was stillborn and the other died in infancy). Despite its somber location, the site was silent and befitting a great President.

Around the Kennedy gravesite are polished granite slabs, and upon them are etched selected words of JFK's. This one should be familiar to all of us: "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country." Great and immortal words indeed.

At the top of Arlington Cemetery is the famous Arlington House. This is the restored memorial to Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

From its height and proximity across the Potomac River, Arlington affords a fantastic view of D.C. From various vantage points one can see all the major monuments and government buildings. I felt like the men and women interred at Arlington kept an eternal watch over the city, their spiritual presence safeguarding our freedom as Americans.

Near the Kennedy gravesite and eternal flame was the modest grave of his brother, Robert Kennedy. It was befitting that he, Attorney General of the US, was buried between his brother's grave and Justice Hill, where many Supreme Court Justices were interred.

One of the main attractions of Arlington is the Amphitheatre, where performances are still held and moving oratories delivered.

Here is the grave of Audie Murphy, one of the most revered and decorated soldiers in American History. He earned the Medal of Honor, and also starred in movies until a plane crash claimed his life in 1971.

The mast of the battleship USS MAINE. The explosion of this ship in Havana Harbor sparked the Spanish-American War in 1898.

The monument to the crewmen of the MAINE is designed symbolically like a round tomb. The names of every sailor and his respective rank/rate and occupation are etched into the outside. Every man, from Coal Loader to Captain, is there for us to remember.

Here is the monument to the Confederate Troops of the Civil War. At first, we thought it would be the Rough Riders' monument, but once we walked all the way around, we realized we were wrong.

Now here is the monument of the Rough Riders, the famous unit led by Teddy Roosevelt (and the subject of my Dad's favorite film). Behind the monument are the graves of many of the Rough Riders themselves.

Though modest, this marker denotes the graves of the Buffalo Soldiers. To those unfamiliar with history, the Buffalo Soldiers were black men conscripted into the US Cavalry. A great number of these valiant men served with the Rough Riders in their famous charge up San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War.

After watching the changing of the guard over the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, we departed Arlington Cemetery a bit more sober but mindful of the cost of our freedom. From there we went to the National Air & Space Museum. Seeing the hardware and artifacts at the Museum was the personal high of my time in Washington D.C. Before heading into the Museum we stopped and got hotdogs from a street vendor (counts as Wonderful Meal #6). Maya couldn't believe that I'd never had a street hotdog before, though she wouldn't let me take a picture.

The first thing you see inside the NA&S Museum is a collection of legendary air and space craft. Here is the command module of Apollo 11, the first manned mission to the moon.

Yes, this really is the Spirit of St. Louis, the first nonstop trans-Atlantic aircraft flown by Charles Lindbergh.

Friendship 7, the first manned American craft to orbit the earth. It was flown by former USMC pilot and Senator John Glenn. He went a little farther than just the Halls of Montezuma or the shores of Tripoli!

The coolest plane in the world, the Bell Labs X1, flown by the coolest man in the world, Chuck Yeager. On 14 October 1947, he broke the sound barrier in the X1.

Another shot of the X1, or its real name, the Glamorous Glennis (Chuck named it after his wife... what a guy!). The sight of the X1 was why I came to DC. I actually got a little teary seeing the plane I'd only seen as a replica in the movie "The Right Stuff."

Gemini IV was the craft from which Edward White emerged, to perform America's first EVA (Extra-Vehicular Activity), on 3 June 1965. This great achievement (though preceded by the Russians 3 months earlier) paved the way for the moonwalks to come. Astronaut White died two years later in the Apollo 1 launchpad fire that also claimed the lives of Gus Grissom and Roger Chaffee.

In 1975, two nations finally merged their craft in space. The Russian Soyuz and American Apollo rendezvous fulfilled an agreement, made three years prior by both nations, for a joint space venture.

Talk about getting high! The X-15 was used in altitude research and practically bridged the gap between atmosphere and space, operating at well above 100,000 feet. It was also the first plane to reach speeds of Mach 4, 5, and 6.

Although the Museum of American History and Culture was closed for renovations, they managed to squeeze a bit into an exhibit area at the Air & Space Museum. Here, honest to God, is Abraham Lincoln's stovepipe hat.

After Yoda, here's the most famous green person in history: Kermit the Frog.

If I only had a brain... It's the Scarecrow from "The Wizard of Oz!!" Not a replica, folks. That's real depression-era felt costuming at its finest.

And the Scarecrow wouldn't be complete without Dorothy's legendary Ruby Slippers. This particular pair (there were several used during the filming) was the one Judy Garland used for most of her musical numbers.

"Watson, could you come in here please?" It's Bell's first telelphone. Imagine getting a hands-free device for that.

The computer that made a zillion sci-fi writers itchy for stories: the ENIAC. Maya made sure to mention that part of the ENIAC is housed at her alma mater, the University of Michigan.

Straight from the LucasFilms prop closet, R2-D2 and C-3PO as they appeared in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.

Hit by the man who made the Red Sox shake their heads and cry for so many years: a baseball autographed by Herman "Babe" Ruth.

The gloves of "The Greatest," Muhammaed Ali. Remember, kids: float like a butterfly, sting like a bee!

My hands were actually shaking when I saw this: George Washington's Continental Army uniform. It's so sacred you'd think it was a replica. Nope, it's real and very regal befitting the father of our country. The man was tall, too!

The gold nugget found in Coloma, California, by James Marshall. Love or hate us Californians, this is what made the country greater than great. I stared at this nugget for a while, feeling my California pride welling up.

The powerful, strong image of Rosie the Riveter. This is one of the actual posters from stateside during World War II. The gift shop had canvas bags with this poster's image, so naturally we picked one up.

The mileage signpost from MASH (4077th). Even those who disliked the show can't deny its effect on American culture. I've seen every single episode, though mostly on re-runs. What I don't know is if this is the same (reconstituted) signpost they took apart in the final episode...

Tick tick tick tick... Tonight on 60 seconds. That's THE stopwatch. Next to it is Clayton Moore's mask from one of my favorite childhood shows, "The Lone Ranger." Alas, Tonto's headband was not represented.

Archie Bunker's chair from "All in the Family." They don't make chairs that comfy anymore, Meathead.

As I mentioned at the top of this page, we went to dinner with Jen and Brett (Wonderful Meal #7). We dined at the Old Angler's Inn in Potomac, Maryland. A fine establishment, for they had Glenmorangie at the bar.

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Photos taken by Mike, except in the restaurant.