Day 7: Mar. 3, 2004
Touring the Capitol



There are many tour services available but only one, Tourmobile, that includes riding through Arlington Cemetery. I caught the Metro to the cemetery and grabbed a picture of the Women in Service Memorial on the way to the tour start point. The tour's first stop is at John Kennedy's grave site. That's Arlington House in the background of the picture of the Women's memorial as well as the one of the ramp to Kennedy's grave. Both John and Jackie are buried here along with two children who died in infancy. Brother Bobby Kennedy is buried nearby in a rather plainly marked grave.

ADDENDUM: Jan 12, 2010 - While looking for something totally unrelated, I came across some photos of the Kennedy grave site taken on a family vacation in 1964. I believe that vacations was in late July or early August; barely eight months after the assassination and burial. Those photos are here and here.

The next stop is at the Tomb of the Unknowns. Having watched the changing of the guard when Chris & I were here in 2001, I opted, instead, to visit some nearby sites and catch the next bus. Tour buses come by each stop every 20 minutes so you can spend as little or as much time as desired at each stop. Items of interest in the area include Audey Murphy's grave, a new memorial to the Columbia astronauts, and an older one for all Battle of the Bulge participants.

Arlington House was the home of Robert E. Lee for many years before the Civil War. It has been restored and refurnished. Many of the furnishings, such as this chair, are original. This may, in fact, be where Lee sat as he reached the decision to resign from the union army. In front of the house, the grave of Pierre L'Enfant, the city's designer, is even closer than Kennedy's. The large white Tomb of the Civil War Unknown contains the remains of 2,111 civil war causalities.

After Arlington House, the tour returns to its starting point where I transferred to another bus for the D.C. portion of the tour. Over the river, the first stop is near the Vietnam Memorial. In addition to the famous black wall, this includes the bronze statue of three soldiers. From the same stop, I visited the Lincoln Memorial, the haunting Korean War Memorial, and the Vietnam Women's Memorial.

The tour buses also stop near the White House and along the National Mall but, since I planned to visit Smithsonian Museums tomorrow, I skipped the Mall stops and went on to the capitol building. Once there, I obtained a ticket for a free tour and roamed about the neighborhood until time for it to start. Area attractions include a large Garfield statue and an even larger statue of Grant in the middle of a rather impression grouping. The white tower is a monument to Civil War Naval causalities.

After a security check, we hooked up with guide Jerry and the tour began. We spent some time in the rotunda, under that irresistible ceiling, while Jerry pointed out interesting items all around us. Jerry's knowledge was impressive and he seemed able to name every state's congressmen and statues and even identified and greeted Senator Dodd as the congressman crossed the rotunda floor. Before we moved on, I snapped a picture of Sacagawea and General Eisenhower who almost seemed to be guarding one of the doorways. In Statuary Hall, preparations were underway for an afternoon event.

I learned that it was possible to get passes to visit the senate or house galleries but I wanted to spend my time differently. I boarded the next tour bus and rode by Union Station, where I had arrived on Tuesday, the Supreme Court, and the not yet complete Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian.

I again skipped some stops and made for the Jefferson Memorial. This is probably the president that I've admired most but I have no words to tack onto these pictures of his memorial except to say that I really enjoyed the visit.

The last stop was my first visit to the FDR memorial. I was most impressed with the massive yet elegant site. There are four sections with one each devoted to the depression and war and another to the over all presidency. Eleanor appears in the fourth. Note that these four pictures do not correspond to the four memorial sections.

From the FDR Memorial, this view of the Jefferson Memorial caught my eye and snapping this picture may have caused me to miss the last bus of the day. I saw it drop off passengers, some four or five minutes ahead of schedule, from about fifty yards away. I walked on to the next stop, at the Lincoln Memorial, and found a couple of other tour members who also felt the bus had been early. They immediately started walking toward Arlington and, after a few moments consideration, so did I. My compensation for the missed ride was the chance to watch rowers training on the Potomac and an up close view of the Italian statues on the bridge. I caught a ride at the Arlington Cemetery Metro station.

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