I spent the morning at the Natural History Museum then walked up to DuPont Circle for a late lunch at Vincenzo’s Restaurante. The daily special was the Brick Oven baked pizza with fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, topped arugula and a balsamic glaze. Delizioso! I was preparing myself for my visit to Italy.
More than satisfied with the pizza, I headed down Constitution Ave. to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, dedicated in 1982. I had seen pictures of the monument, but when I turned and walked down the slope to the center of the granite walls I was struck by the silence. The traffic noise was gone, only whispers or soft crying from visitors could be heard.
It is one of the most somber places on the National Mall. This memorial is not a fancy nor ornate piece of architecture but simply two polished black granite walls sunken into the Earth. Etched upon the walls in quiet reverence are the 58,274 names of the missing or deceased. The imagery was breathtaking. My emotions were overwhelmed with sadness; I could not forget the cruelty of war. This amazing tribute to the men and women who were forever lost while serving our country was designed by Maya Lin during an undergraduate at Yale University.
From there I walked to the World War II Memorial seen by over 4 million visitors each year, making it one of the most popular spots in America. The Memorial is split into two sides, representing the Atlantic and Pacific theaters and is adorned with gold stars, representing Americans who lost their lives during WWII.
My last sightseeing adventure was the Arlington National Cemetery. Rather than take the long walk across the Potomac over the Memorial Bridge, I decided to take the Metro. The visitor center was my first stop. There I learned about the interpretative tour bus service through Arlington with stops at the Ord & Weitzel walking gate to see the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, President John F. Kennedy gravesite, U.S. Coast Guard Memorial, U.S. Army Gen. John J. Pershing’s gravesite, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the Arlington House.
The day’s sightseeing was very emotional and heart-wrenching. Spanning multiple decades, each memorial, our national cemetery and graves of the great men and women who have died, not just for our country’s freedom but for others freedom, gave me a renewed sense of pride in being an American and a veteran.
Since the Civil War, there has not been a battle fought on domestic soil, except for the battle against crime and injustice. The law enforcement personnel have also given their lives in defense of maintaining our laws and protecting our citizens from cruelty and crime. I loved my job for the purpose it served, but I don’t miss the mayhem and in-humane actions that I faced.
Having had a wonderful day, albeit an emotional one, in our great capital, I decided to head back to the hotel where I picked up my luggage and took a shuttle to Dulles Airport for the overnight trip to Rome. I took a few minutes to write today’s journal. Then I thought about parts of my life – what was missing. The lesson I’ve learned is that there’s no going back in time to correct errors in judgment and make things all right. What I need is to figure out is how to care more for another person than myself and give freely without expectations. Easier to say than done. I hope I can achieve this. Maybe someday I will find the woman who can tolerate me and allow me to grow. Time to head to Italy.
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