I visited Washington DC this weekend with my youngest daughter. We had a wonderful mother/daughter trip. I hadn’t visited the District of Columbia to see the sights since July of 2001. In 2001, my eldest daughter attended a one week course at American University. I had driven there and back in one day to drop her off. Those were crazy supermom times. When it was time to pick her up, my mom and younger daughter tagged along and we spent a few a days seeing the sights. During this past weekend, I mentioned a few times to M that we did this or that when we were here in 2001. She didn’t remember the trip. She was only 14 years old at the time. She remembered a few things she did on her senior trip to DC in Spring of 2004. And even commented that she didn’t really appreciate all of it. I mentioned that even if she didn’t appreciate the trip it was a worthwhile experience. I quoted my Dad who was famous for saying “travel is wasted on the young.” Which I don’t think he really believed because he gave my siblings and I opportunities to travel. Anyway as we were looking for a parking garage this past weekend, I commented ” July 2001 was the first time I ever remember having to open the trunk and them using that long mirror to look under the car.” Strangely M remembered that, too. Little did we know that would become a normal part of life in today’s world.

Washington is a beautiful city. It is very clean and doesn’t seem cluttered. As we walked along we mentioned how quiet it seemed in comparison to NYC. I often wonder what people think when they visit NYC for the first time. I love NYC but I think the energy of the city overwhelms people. There is something awe-inspiring about DC. The buildings are so majestic and the memorials are stunning. I felt humbled not just by the beauty of the structures but by the sacrifice and ideals that they represented. I was reminded of what an amazing country I live in. As my Dad used to say “Our form of government isn’t perfect but it is better than any other form of government you will find in the rest of the world.”

Our 30 hour visit to DC included the Newseum, the Pentagon Memorial, a night tour of the city, the Capitol tour, the Library of Congress, the National Archives and the Museum of American History. We walked a lot. Noteworthy: The Newseum is a newer museum and well worth the time and admission price. The world map that shows which countries have a free press is a moment to be thankful. I was saddened that the Pentagon Memorial doesn’t have a larger number of visitors. I was grateful to visit it with a fellow docent from the Tribute Center who was able to tell my daughter and I the meaning of the various elements that make up this beautiful memorial. He also shared his personal September 11 Pentagon story. The night tour of DC is a must. The memorials are stunning at night and not crowded. The tour bus stops at the Capitol, White House, Jefferson, World War II, Roosevelt, MLK, Lincoln, Korean War, Vietnam and Marine Memorials. The tour guide disembarked with us and told all kinds of interesting facts. If it hadn’t been so windy it would have been perfect. The funniest line of the weekend was when we were in the Library of Congress and we couldn’t find any books. M commented “There are no books. They are all on a Kindle.” 🙂

The weird thing about the visit was the reality of “the personal loss in the midst of a national tragedy”. The Newseum had a September 11 section, the road in front of the White House is closed because of 9-11, other places had September 11 remembrances and the Capitol had a memorial to Flight 93. It wasn’t a negative thing. It was almost like a secret my daughter and I shared. And I wondered what secrets the other visitors had as they looked at the various memorials and remembered a family member or friend.

It was a great weekend to spend time with my daughter and to remember that “freedom isn’t free”.