©Unless otherwise noted, all content and photos are © 2013 Monumental Thoughts.
President Obama and his daughters Sasha and Malia will hit the button at 4:30 p.m. or so. You need tickets to attend so otherwise avoid the area and come back later. It’s a nice show and for once the weather shouldn’t be freezing.
I remember my parents taking me to see the tree when I was five years old or so. Mom is a native Washingtonian so we often went to the big events. All I remember is how big the trees for the states seemed, but now I’m bigger than they are.
I’ll skip Friday and wait until the coldest night when my wife will want to go again. Just be careful walking in the dark because it’s real easy to turn an ankle around there. Almost happened to me once.
Wait, am I a grinch?
Mount Vernon has opened the third floor as part of its Christmas season so of course I had to go up when taking a group from Florida yesterday.
Usually, I meet people at the home’s exit because I’ve seen it so many times. I grew up across the river in Accokeek so Mount Vernon is a familiar sight, though it never gets old. A little cold sometimes. I’m even taking Australians there on Jan. 4, but it’s a very walkable place.
Anyway, George Washington created the third floor and I wondered why it wasn’t on the normal tour when it’s just another staircase up. A guide told me it was about fire code regulations on how many people could be in the home and the slower winter season allows extra people up top.
What was it like? Well, you can see up into the cupola (wish I could have gone up) and there are four rooms, including Martha Washington’s bedroom in her final two years. And that’s it so nothing tremendous, but it’s still a rare chance to see it in coming weeks.
There’s also a camel stabled along the path. Turns out Washington once paid for a camel to visit Mount Vernon to entertain residents. Who knew? I don’t think I’ve ever stood next to a camel so that was cool. And, of course, everybody walking by said, “Hump dayyyy.” There’s also the two turkeys pardoned by President Obama.
So go by and see George’s home. Unlike many Washington attractions that are crowded, noisy or costly, Mount Vernon is a quiet oasis so easy to enjoy.
Arlington National Cemetery will end its blind eye to grave decorations of Afghanistan and Iraq casulaties in Section 60 beginning in 2015. Families of those fallen soldiers have been leaving many personal items that aren’t allowed in other areas. The call to hold the section to standards of the entire cemetery came from an advisory committee.
It’s a tough call, but the right one. I can’t imagine the pain of families who lost their son, brother, father, sister, mother or cousin in service to our country. In a private cemetery they would be allowed to leave personal items, but this is a national cemetery and needs to have one set of rules. By waiting until 2015, it gives families more time to grieve.
It’s not unusual to see family members in Section 60 spend all day there. That’s their right and personal business. I don’t lead tourists past that section because I feel for the family members and wouldn’t want tourists gawking at my pain no matter how unintentional it might be.
I have one family member buried at Arlington and another who will soon be interred there. It’s truly an honor to be buried at Arlington. Nobody’s turning their backs on the families, but anyone in the military knows sacrifices are always made.
The National Capital Planning Commission rejected a request to raise building heights in Washington, saying it wants further study before amending the 1910 Heights of Buildings Act that limits buildings to 160 feet.
Typical government bureaucracy, but in this case it doesn’t hurt to make sure the needed changes are done correctly.
Washington needs to increase its building heights. Population has grown 20 percent over 13 years and there’s only so much space. There’s a terrific book called “$20 a Gallon” that projects how reverse migration will increase major cities as gas prices rise to cause more of a blend of commercial/residential like many European cities. For once, city leaders are ahead of the curve and yet Mayor Vincent Gray was rebuffed after gaining a key panel’s approval before slammed by the commission.
The commission’s panel wanted to raise downtown buildings 40 feet to 200 and allow taller buildings outside the historic core. Personally, I’d keep downtown at 160 feet and let the outlying neighborhoods grow taller. Still, it’s a solid plan for the future.
What I love about Washington is the sunlight crossing the city through sunset. It’s not dark hours earlier like New York City. It provides a sense of freedom from the city despite being downtown. The commission was right to keep skyscrapers from towering over the White House and out monuments. If you’ve ever seen Philadelphia’s historic core you’d know why.
Change in inevitable. My grandparents’ Washington was quite different from today. And, my grandchildren’s Washington will surely be different. We just owe it to them to make sure the future is a great one.
They say if you were alive you remember what you were doing the exact moment when hearing the news. But, I was only three-years old so I don’t remember that, but I do remember my parents attending the funeral by standing on the street as the motorcade headed to Arlington National Cemetery.
I stopped by Kennedy’s eternal flame on Thursday to see if anything was happening. There was a satellite TV truck near the grave, which I hadn’t seen before in the cemetery. There was a pile of red and white roses atop JFK’s grave and white roses on his brothers Bobby, Teddy and Joe.
No strip joints (though adult entertainment can be seen on hotel room TVs.) No adult video or book stores. No escort services.
Man, what are people going to do in that hotel?
No flea markets, furniture stores, blood banks, dentists, pawn shops, bail bondsmen, Laundromats, Navy-Army surplus, tattoo parlors or auto parts stores.
And no fish and bait shops.
Walking near Arlington House by the staircase is my favorite place in Arlington National Cemetery. Sweeping view, interesting grave markers and a sense of the hardest walking is over makes it a nice spot to reflect.
I looked up to the cloudy sky and saw the sun through the clouds. But then, it was like there was a second sun to the left trying to poke out. A burn mark of sun that some say is the eye of God watching us. This photo isn’t of the sun, but it shining through clouds about a mile away.
I only had my iPhone to capture the photo above and it doesn’t do the scene justice. With a proper camera I could have shown it over the graves, but the light contrast wouldn’t let me do both with a simple iPhone.
But, it’s still cool. Makes us remember we’re not alone.
The weather is perfect, crowds thin and the “other” trees are putting on quite a show right now. It only lasts for a week for two, but so do the cherry blossoms at best.
I’ve really enjoyed touring the past week among the colors. The trees shown above at the Korean War Memorial are really popping right now. Walking up Arlington National Cemetery to the Tomb of the Unknowns is so much easier in 50 degree weather than 100 and the trees are gorgeous. That there aren’t 10,000 eighth-graders around makes it fun, too.
Long before it was a staging area for Civil War troops met by president Abe Lincoln or where blood was shed during the Battle of 1812 as British troops marched into Washington or even when it became a cemetery, Fort Lincoln was an historic area.
The 178-acre cemetery established by the Maryland General Assembly in 1912 includes one of the original boundary stones ordered by President George Washington to determine the capital’s exact limits.
The cemetery is technically in Bladensburg, Md. as boundary stone NE7 hugs inside the fence line. Visitors should head as far to the right in the cemetery as possible, pass the columbarium for urns and about 50 feet afterwards across from the Garden of the Crucifixion to find the white stone inside a black iron fence.
The stone was erected in 1791-92 during the survey by Andrew Ellicott. The iron cage was erected around the cemetery stone in 1916 by the D.C. Daughters of the American Revolution and a new one in 2012 using iron from the old cage.
One of the 144 House Republicans who voted against ending the shutdown has now admitted his Oct. 2 berating of a National Park Service ranger barring veterans from the World War II Memorial was wrong.
Congressman, this ranger was doing, at no pay, what you ordered in voting for a shutdown. Now you berated her – in front of TV cameras using veterans as a prop — for doing what you ordered?
Neugebauer has since sent the director of the National Park Service a letter of apology, according to CNN. He admits to using an inappropriate tone, regretted how he handled the situation and apologized.
Well, at least that’s something.
I thought the rangers did a great job during the shutdown of balancing the public’s desire to see the memorials while enforcing the no-entry rule imposed by their superiors. The whole thing was needless and they handled it well.
White House tours resume on Nov. 5 for three days weekly through Jan. 15. Eliminated in March because of sequester cuts to save overtime cost for Secret Service agents, the tours reopen as part of the government shutdown compromise.
The self-guided tours include the East Wing, first floor and ground floor of the White House. In the past, tours last about 40 minutes.
Tickets are only available through Congressional representatives and U.S. Senators. Foreigners can request tickets through their ambassador. In the past, requests took three to six months to fulfill, depending on the time of year. You have to provide your Social Security Number that’s run through the terrorist watch list. Bring only your photo ID with no purses or bags allowed on the tour.
Also, the White House gardens and grounds are open to the public of Oct. 26-27. Tickets are first-come at the visitor’s pavilion on the Ellipse. First Lady Michelle Obama’s vegetable garden, Rose Garden and Jackie Kennedy’s garden are on the tour.
I won’t thank lawmakers for finally coming to their senses, especially that idiot congressman who told a park ranger she should be ashamed for keeping people out of the memorials when it was the politicians who did it. I really hope his voters realize he was grandstanding on the backs of veterans and deny him re-election.
Really, the Lincoln Memorial seemed the only icon on the mall that people couldn’t visit during the shutdown after the first few days. There were a lot of open barricades and few rangers to enforce them so it wasn’t a major deal to tourists. At least, the outside venues. Inside ones were closed and there was no way around that.
So what will we tell future visitors about 2013 when the government shut down our memorials, parks and other venues? That they brought shame to America.
Yeah, I’m still mad.