Last week I shared about some of the powerful experiences that I had when I took a family vacation to Washington D.C. I shared about the fragile flag created during the writing of the Star Spangled Banner and some of the most important documents to have ever graced our planet: the Constitution, Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights.
This week I want to share about some of the historical sites that we took in. These are sites that help to make up the history of our country. They symbolize events that have changed the course of history and play a part in where we are today.
One of my favorite memorial parks that we visited was the WWII Memorial. It is absolutely gorgeous…made up of fountains, engraved stones and wreaths. Every country that played a part in this war is memorialized. One of the first things we see is a large granite stone that has this engraved on it:
“HERE IN THE PRESENCE OF WASHINGTON AND LINCOLN ONE THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY FATHER AND THE OTHER THE NINETEENTH CENTURY PRESERVER OF OUR NATION WE HONOR THOSE TWENTIETH CENTURY AMERICANS WHO TOOK UP THE STRUGGLE DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR AND MADE THE SACRIFICES TO PERPETUATE THE GIFT OUR FOREFATHERS ENTRUSTED TO US A NATION CONCEIVED IN LIBERTY AND JUSTICE”
Think about that…the gift of America. This gift came from the hands of our forefathers which were not handed over casually. They entrusted that future generations would preserve the liberties and justice that this country was built upon.
There is another inscription I greatly appreciated about our flag:
“WE ARE DETERMINED THAT BEFORE THE SUN SETS ON THIS TERRIBLE STRUGGLE OUR FLAG WILL BE RECOGNIZED THROUGHOUT THE WORLD AS A SYMBOL OF FREEDOM ON THE ONE HAND AND OF OVERWHELMING FORCE ON THE OTHER.”
Freedom and force…terms that sound almost like opposites yet when they are melded together, lay the foundation for our country.
I also appreciated seeing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, especially since my own father served on the front lines in Vietnam. Before leaving for the trip I had asked my father to write something that I could share with my children to help them better understand what he did as a soldier fighting in that war.
What he wrote brought tears to my eyes. The following day my stepmom sent me a follow-up email to let me know how hard that was for my father to write. She indicated how it has taken him this long to feel proud of his service because of how divided America was over the Vietnam War. I would hope that every soldier, no matter what we personally believe about a war, would be honored for their service.
The last thing we visited on this particular day was the Lincoln Memorial. It was a moving experience. As we made our way up the stairs to the massive statute, there was a boom box playing Martin Luther’s King speech, “I Have a Dream.” Some people were sitting on the stairs, gathered around it and soaking in the words of that incredible and life changing speech.
Then I was suddenly standing before a statue of my personal favorite president and the man I most admire, President Lincoln. He represents freedom in so many ways. He began the steps that would pave the way to fight racism. It’s not a fight won yet but it has come a long, long way.
At the Korean War Veterans Memorial are my favorite words etched in stone, “FREEDOM IS NOT FREE.” How true that is. How a price must be paid in order to gain that freedom is almost mind boggling. To be free you have to pay a price. It’s not free to be free. Think about the men and women who have paid that price for you, for me.
I hope you can see that this more than just a family vacation, it was an experience. I would encourage anyone who can manage to do it, to take a trip to Washington D.C. Soak in the history of our country and discover a new appreciation for it.