Dockside on The Wharf

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Men of science in Museum of the Bible

It would seem a strange sight at first. Men of science in the Museum of the Bible. But, the displays show the two are not incompatible.

Galileo is shown with his telescope. The 17th-century scientist is known for saying the sun was the center of the universe at a time when people believed Earth was the center. When church leaders challenged Galileo, he said the Bible tells “how to go to Heaven, not how the heavens go.”

Sir Isaac Newton is known for his theories of gravity prompted by an apple hitting him in the head. The 18th-century physicist believed to know nature is the know God and that God provides order to the universe.

George Washington Carver was born into slavery in 1860, but grew to one of the 20th century’s leading botanists and inventors. He created more than 500 agricultural inventions and 300 uses for peanuts. Carver referred to his laboratory as “God’s little workshop.”

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Crowds bloom as cherry blossoms peak

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A different view from the water

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Cherry blossoms at dusk

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Walking through Lafayette Park

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Cherry blossoms hit peak bloom

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My favorite cherry blossom photo . . . so far

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Japanese Magnolias always underrated

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Best photo locations for cherry blossoms

The time of day you’re photographing cherry blossoms determines the best place to photograph them.

Many serious photographers arrive at dawn to avoid crowds and get that sunrise shot. The best spot is along the Tidal Basin by 15th St. SW and Independence Ave. SW across from the Holocaust Museum. The sun will be behind you and cast a glow on the water with the Thomas Jefferson Memorial as a backdrop.

If you’re coming more around 7 p.m. for sunset, go to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial at Independence Ave. SW and West Basin Dr. SW. The sun will be behind you near the Lincoln Memorial so you can shoot eastward with the Thomas Jefferson Memorial or the Washington Monument as backdrops.

Any time of day, you can photograph around the King Memorial. It’s a good entrance way into the Tidal Basin and the oldest 50 trees that were part of the 1913 planting still remain to the left of King as you near the water. You can tell by their large girth. This is a good place to photograph King through the blossoms.

There are isolated pockets of cherry blossom trees throughout Washington, but you can’t beat the Tidal Basin when it’s in full bloom.

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Wordless Wednesday: Rev. Graham at the Museum of the Bible

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Personally, Japanese Magnolias > cherry blossoms

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Remembering Charles Davis at Arlington National Cemetery

It’s easy to miss things in Arlington National Cemetery. Most people want to see the changing of the guard and the eternal flame of John F. Kennedy’s grave. It’s already a long walk so they don’t see much else.

Those are great things to see, but the more you wander Arlington’s grounds the more you can appreciate what a special place it is. And so I spent a day in February walking Arlington, looking for things I hadn’t seen or not for awhile when I came across this gorgeous large black marble stone in section 7A not far from the Tombs of the Unknown and just down the row from heavyweight champion Joe Louis.

Charles W. Davis was a Congressional Medal of Honor winner for his heroics in the 1943 Battle of Mount Austin, the Galloping Horse and Sea Horse on the island of Guadalcanal. Davis volunteered to carry messages between companies under fire. Captain of the 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry division, he later led an attack. When his rifle jammed on its first shot, he took out his pistol and kept fighting. The daring move inspired others to follow in winning the battle. He was later awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Davis later served during the Korean and Vietnam wars and retired as a colonel. He died in 1991. His wife Joan died in 2013 while their son Pvt. John Broderick Davis died in 1984.

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The coolest monument in Arlington National Cemetery


I’ve seen probably 95 percent of Arlington National Cemetery and Section 1 in the back is my hands-down favorite. You never know what you’ll find among hundreds of ornate markers.

Leave it to a sailor to have a breath-taking marker of a ship riding the seas with an angel blowing a horn. It seems so real that you will stop to look at it.

Capt. Nathan Sargent, who actually rose to commander of the Atlantic Fleet and Asiatic Fleet and member of the Navy General Board, is buried alongside his wife Isabell Hill Sargent.

Sargent spent much of his life in nearby Washington. He graduated from Gonzaga College (which today is a high school and college preparatory school) and from the U.S. Naval Academy in nearby Annapolis in 1870.

After 35 years in the Navy, Sargent lived in Washington until his 1907 death.

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Wordless Wednesday: Enjoy the magnolias

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Witherspoon caught at crossroads

Sometimes, the busiest venues can be the worst places to honor past Americans with statues.

John Witherspoon is along Connecticut Ave. and N St. N.W. on a spit of land barely big enough for the 10-foot statue high atop a granite base. You’d think a signer of the Declaration of Independence would be given a quieter venue, but this site actually has historical merit.

Witherspoon left his ministry in Scotland to head the College of New Jersey, now called Princeton. He educated many of America’s political leaders, including James Madison and Aaron Burr, three U.S. Supreme Court judges, 10 Cabinet members, 28 U.S. Senators, 49 Congressmen and 12 Continental Congressmen.

Upset over the crown’s interference in local matters, Witherspoon became one of New Jersey’s signers for the Declaration of Independence. After the war, he returned to rebuild the college.

The Presbyterian minister was remembered with a Bible in his hand and dressed in colonial attire when the statue was erected in 1909 by an adjacent church. However, that church was razed in 1966. Federal officials wanted to relocate the statue, but church members successfully argued it should remain in its original location.

And so Witherspoon does, even if it’s in the middle of madness come rush hour.

By the way, actress Reese Witherspoon is a descendant of the colonial leader.

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Admiral still leads way for Peru

Entering the Peruvian embassy on 17th and Pennsylvania Ave. NW means getting by Miguel Grau first.

The magnificent bust of the country’s person of the past millennium dominates the doorway. There wasn’t room to put it elsewhere and what the heck – he was a big deal.

The marble base says “Gran Almirante” (Great admiral) and “Al Caballero de los mares” (To the Horseman of the seas) for the man who led the Peruvian Navy until 1879 when killed at naval Battle of Angamos by an armored-piercing shell during a war with Chile. In fact, there wasn’t much left of Grau, who is now interred in El Callao, Peru. He was called “The Gentleman of the Seas” for his compassion during battle with Chile while holding off the opposing invasion for six months through his stealth attacks on opposing ships.

The Peruvian embassy and chancery was built in 1910 as a private residence designed in Italian classicism. The Australian government sold it to Peru in 1973.

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Wordless Wednesday: Shelly’s Backroom

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Third Infantry — Rock of the Marne

I love monuments that come with explanations. This granite marker in Arlington National Cemetery not far from the Tomb of the Unknowns explains why the Army unit is so important. I’ll simply let it explain itself.

“The 3rd Division was organized at Camp Green, N.C. on 23 November 1917. All units of the division were in France by March 1918. The division entered combat in May. On July 15 it distinquished itself in defense of the Marne River at Chateau-Thierry, forty-five miles northeast of Paris. This act earned the division the proud motto, “Rock of the Marne.”

“The 3D Infantry Division fought with distinction in World War I participating in four amphibious landings in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and France. The division played a crucial role in the defense of South Korea. It returned to Germany in 1957 as part of the NATO defense force and was there when the 3D Division Memorial was dedicated on August 15, 1990.”

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More than a pile of rocks

The grounds of the Organizational States of America are filled with artwork. One looks like a pile of rocks. That’s because it is.

According to a nearby marker, the stones are an Inuksuk — “A northern stone land marker used by the Inuit for navigation, communication and to mark hunting and fishing grounds; it symbolizes the traditional Inuit way of life.

“Canada presented this Inuksuk to the Organization of American States to celebrate its 20th anniversary of membership and to underscore its commitment to the hemisphere. This Inuksuk was built in April 2010 by artist Peter Irniq.”

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