I gave up on my yogurt and opted for coffee and eggs.
Our first stop of the day is the U.S. Marine Corps Museum.
I love this place. This museum was well designed. It was the perfect blend of display and interactives.
Tommy and Sam, two sons of police officers, decided to hit the firing range first.
When we walked into the range there were three guns and Chris Madigan couldn't resist getting in on the action with these boys. He's is one of Troy's finest and walks the blue line (did I say that right???)
If you aren't aware this is National Police Week. National Police Week pays special recognition to those law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others.
Dan, you are my hero. You are the role model I've always wanted for my children. The job and responsibility you have each day is honorable and often taken for granted. I hold my breath every morning you walk out the door and I thank God when you walk through the doors of home each night.
Tommy did pretty well... I think? I'd say if that were a perp he was aiming at, that perp would be toast.
This museum takes you back to the very beginning of the Marine Corps, over 200 years ago. It honors all the men and women who currently serve and have served. There were several marines and veterans walking around. We were able to thank them for their service.
Side note: The owner from Skyline Chili in Troy, Mike, gave Tommy this tshirt and asked if he'd wear it in DC. Mike, this one's for you! Mike is an extraordinary man that supports his community and country. Mike, you are the man!! Everyone eat at Skyline tonight and thank Mike for being so awesome!! Make sure you tell him that you saw his tshirt in DC.
It depicts five United States Marines and a United Stated Navy corpsman raising a U. S. flag atop Mt. Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima in WWII.
This is that flag.
What pride one feels looking that this flag!
Display infront of flag. It makes for a great picture.
After touring through the history of the Marine Corp we hit the gift shop where Tommy bought an M. R. E., meal ready to eat.
His freeze dried oatmeal cookie was terrible but I reminded him that this is what soldiers in the field had to eat. I'm not sure it changed his opinion.
A memorial for all the dogs that gave their lives liberating Guam. As a token of my appreciation I'd like to donate my dog, Chewy. You're welcome.
With another box lunch we got back on the bus and headed to Mt. Vernon.
Mt. Vernon is the home of George Washington. The Washington family called Mt. Vernon home until 1860, when the estate and 200 acres were purchased by the Mt. Vernon Ladies Association. They have maintained and cared for it ever since.
The back veranda.
We spent about three hours exploring the property. It's very impressive!
A very nice gentleman by the name of Christopher, greeted us in the Upper Garden. He was a well learned man and told us much about Gen. Washington. He asked the boys why they were half naked and asked the girls why we were wearing men's breeches.
View of the Potomac River from the back veranda.
After we toured the mansion we headed back into DC to do some ultimate memorial touring.
Here is what we saw:
World War II Memorial
I love the water and openess of this memorial. I could see how easy it would be to sit there in the sun on the cool granite steps for hours. Tommy's Grandpa Tom served in WWII. Thank you Grandpa Tom for your service to our country!
MLK Jr. Memorial
Tommy really enjoyed this one. He liked all the waterfalls.
Then we took a break for dinner at Harriet's. It was surprisingly good. I say that because when we walked in it was filthy and about a hundred degrees. Lucky for us they brought out a portable air conditioner.
We have reached the final leg of our trip. It was back on the bus and to the memorials.
Honestly Abe is my favorite. His memorial is huge! Larger than life...just like Abe.
View from the steps....wow!
Vietnam Memorial-The Wall
It's a tradition with our school to place flowers next to the names of those soliders who have died during the Vietnam War. Each flower had the name and coordinates of where to find the name on the wall.
I had been anticipating this memorial. What Tommy didn't know is that a relative of ours died in that war. Steven D Karnehm.
As I waited outside the bus my eyes started tearing up a bit. I could see through the windows of the bus Tommy's shocked expression when he saw his flower.
As soon as his feet hit the pavement he ran over to me and said, "Mom, look! It says Karnehm!" I told him this was my father's cousin.
He couldn't walk fast enough to find Steven on The Wall. His eyes were also starting to tear up.
Once we finally found the panel we realized Steven's name was too high up to touch.
We laid the flower under his name and sat in silence.
I cried for the little bit of innocence lost that day with Tommy.
I will never forget this day. This is the exact moment when Tommy became a patriot for our country. I could see that mixed emotion of sadness and pride when he saw that name upon The Wall. It all became very real for him. He knows that this is the ultimate sacrifice you can do for your country.
He wanted to know more. We went to the book of names and found some Hamlins. I told him that they probably weren't related but he insisted that we should find them because, "mom, we are all related one way or the other".
We found two.
Because we spent so much time at The Wall we never got to make it over to the Korean Memorial.
On our way out two things happened.
First, we ran into a veteran.
And second he said, "Mom, I am definitely joining the marines"
My inner mom voice said like hell you are.
But instead I looked down at him and said, "Tommy that is one of the most honorable things you can do for our country. I would be so proud of you".
Because it is and I would.
We get back on the bus for the final stop on our tour.
Iwo Jima Memorial
I forgot to mention back at the Marine Corps Museum that Tommy actually knows quite a bit about this photograph. He wrote a report about it in class.
When a marine who welcomed us to that museum asked if anyone knew who those people were, I think he was expecting the answer "US soliders". But Tommy started listing the names:
He impressed both that marine and me!
Tommy told me about the 13th hand on this memorial. He said that some people think that it was a mistake by the designer and others think it was meant as the hand of God.
I'm going with the hand of God.
Once we were on the bus, Marty our awesome tour guide, told us he wanted to take us to a surprise visit.
Pentagon- 911 Memorial
At this point it is completely dark outside.
This memorial honors the 184 people who died on September 11th, both from Flight 77 and from the Pentagon.
There are 184 benches.
I know it's hard to see but these benches are made out of metal and stone. There is water beneath them and the name is engraved on the end.
The benches are lined up from youngest to oldest. The youngest was a 3 year old girl from Flight 77 and the oldest was a seventy something man from the Pentagon.
We couldn't read the names because it was dark unless we used our phones as a flashlight.
Tommy walked around stopping at different benches and reading the names.
I decided to walk over to a bench to see what the design was like and this is what I read:
I have no idea if there is a connection I think my mom or aunt would have said something by now.
But it's weird that the only bench I decided to read, out of 184, happens to have this name...right??
We are on the road back to Ohio. I can't complain about the bus ride back. After this week learning about what our soldiers do for us, the lives that have been lost, a bus ride seems a minuscule thing to complain about.
This has been a wonderful week. So many emotions: tired, awestruck, and poignant.
I will return with Dan and Max someday soon. DC is so interesting. There's so much to learn and so much to do.
To my son Tommy: I have never been prouder of you. You made the most of this trip, you soaked it all in. I had fun learning and exploring. Thank you.
The Washington DC trip has come to an end.
Until the next time...