Thursday, March 24, 2011

washington dc part two......

after getting less sleep than i anticipated the first night in our hotel, we headed out on the second day of our trip to arlington national cemetery for a walking tour.  luckily, we had beautiful weather for the second day in a row....
we were lucky enough to be there at a time when we could catch the changing of the guard.  it was a very moving ceremony and the kids were quiet and respectful. 
 i swear not one of them made a peep.  not an easy feat when you are 13 and 14 years old....i was one proud mama chaperone....
did you know that whatever direction that you look in arlington cemetery the headstones will always be lined up in a row....it was very interesting...
as was this information that i got in an email just yesterday.


1. How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the 
tomb of the Unknowns and why?
 

21 steps. It alludes to the twenty-one gun salute, which is the
highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary. 

2. How long does he hesitate after his about face to begin his
return walk and why?
 

21 seconds for the same reason as answer number 1 

3. Why are his gloves wet? 

His gloves are moistened to prevent his losing his grip on the
rifle.
 

4. Does he carry his rifle on the same shoulder all the time and if not, why not? 
He carries the rifle on the shoulder away from the tomb.
After his march across the path, he executes an about face
and moves the rifle to the outside shoulder. 


5. How often are the guards changed? 
Guards are changed every thirty minutes,
twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.
 

6. What are the physical traits of the guard limited to? 

For a person to apply for guard duty at the tomb, he must be

between 5' 10" and 6' 2" tall and his waist size cannot exceed 30. Other

requirements of the Guard: They must commit 2 years of life to guard the

tomb, live in a barracks under the tomb, and cannot drink any alcohol on

or off duty for the rest of their lives. They cannot swear in public for the

rest of their lives and cannot disgrace the uniform {fighting} or the tomb in

any way. After two years, the guard is given a wreath pin that is worn on

their lapel signifying they served as guard of the tomb. There are only

400 presently worn. The guard must obey these rules for the rest of their

lives or give up the wreath pin.

The shoes are specially made with very thick soles to keep the heat

and cold from their feet. There are metal heel plates that extend to the

top of the shoe in order to make the loud click as they come to a halt.

There are no wrinkles, folds or lint on the uniform. Guards dress for duty

in front of a full-length mirror.

The first six months of duty a guard cannot talk to anyone, nor

watch TV. All off duty time is spent studying the 175 notable people laid

to rest in Arlington National Cemetery . A guard must memorize who they are

and where they are interred. Among the notables are: President Taft, Joe

E. Lewis {the boxer} and Medal of Honor winner Audie Murphy, {the most

decorated soldier of WWII} of Hollywood fame.

Every guard spends five hours a day getting his uniforms ready for

guard duty. 


In 2003 as Hurricane Isabelle was approaching Washington , DC , our

US Senate/House took 2 days off with anticipation of the storm. On the ABC

evening news, it was reported that because of the dangers from the

hurricane, the military members assigned the duty of guarding the Tomb of

the Unknown Soldier were given permission to suspend the assignment. They

respectfully declined the offer, "No way, Sir!" Soaked to the skin,

marching in the pelting rain of a tropical storm, they said that guarding

the Tomb was not just an assignment, it was the highest honor that can be

afforded to a serviceperson. The tomb has been patrolled continuously,

24/7, since 1930. 

God Bless and keep them. 


the grounds were beautiful and peaceful and historic....and they had a view of the district that included the state capital building, the washington monument and even the pentagon.  
it's easy to feel an overwhelming sense of patriotism, and we all did...
so much history.....the plaques and sculptures are fabulous like this at the tomb of john kennedy.
from there we went to george washington's estate, mt. vernon...
they were doing some renovations on the house.  i wasn't allowed to take pictures of the inside of the house but i didn't get that message until after i had taken this picture
of an armoire who's color i adored....naturally...
the estate looks out onto the patomac river with an absolutely wonderful view.

 we had to spend about 3 hours at the estate which thankfully had acres and acres for the kids to run around on.  and they needed to run around to expend some of their energy.
kathy was my hotel roommate for the trip.  we each had a different group of kids so we didn't get to spend a ton of time together but when we did, we had a lot of fun...thanks kathy, you were great and you didn't snore....  :)
i even managed to have one of the other chaperones get a picture of me with my kids....

our final day was spent back in dc at the national cathedral and the state capital building.
the national cathedral was gorgeous.  it was very reminiscent of cathedrals in europe in design.  it took about 80 years to complete this one.
here are some images of the amazing interior...
as is always the case, the photos don't do this treasure justice.....

 a rock from the moon (yes, really, the moon!) was incorporated into this stained glass window depicting the heavens..
it's the black rock in the middle of the red circle

and the beautiful exterior


but the most surprising feature of the church???
the gift shop. inside the church.  where they sold 
these...
and this
i was especially surprised to see the pop machine and voiced that to the boys.  one of them told me
"it's okay, it's holy coke"!!!!  
we all got a laugh out of that one.  i guess i shouldn't be surprised, they have to make a buck too, right?

we wrapped up our trip at the state capital building.  we saw a little movie before going into the rotunda for the tour which i promptly fell asleep at while watching it.  i found out afterward that just about all of the chaperones and some of the kids fell asleep too!!  i guess we hadn't caught up on our sleep as much as i thought we did....

i'm not sure why this guy was in the capital building because i was too tired to hear what they told us but it was hilarious when the kids thought that what he was holding was the remote....and they couldn't believe how big it was..lol...
 my favorite shot of the capital building???
this one....
 how's that for a sign of the times!!  it's a little blurry because i was trying to get the shot before he looked up and saw me taking a picture of him texting and so he wouldn't grab the camera out of my hands and smash it on the ground....
you can see the reflection of a couple of kids who couldn't believe it either,  lol...

a few more highlights were the trip to the memorials....the raising of the flag at iwo jima, 
the lincoln memorial,

the korean war memorial

 the vietnam war memorial
 which totally made me start crying when i read this and saw many other notes just like it there....
 and the statues which really bring home the fact that the average age of an american soldier in vietnam was 19 years old...

all in all i would utterly and completely do it all again....every minute of sleep that i lost was totally worth it.  and the memory of taking the trip with my boy is one that he and i will have forever!!!

they enjoyed it as much as i did, ya think???
bus #6, the greatest kids on the trip!!!
thank you for sharing this little bit of history with me.....have a great weekend...





1 comments:

Musings Of A Gem said...

I would love to go there...so much history!



Gemma xXx

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