Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Day 23

We started the day much like the one before--we got up slowly, then Dad and Reverend Briley made breakfast. Then Mr. Mark got his car out and he drove us around DC a while.

We saw historic buildings such as the Capitol, the Library of Congress and more. We stopped and walked over to the White House, where some protest was going on. Mr. Mark commented, "There's always a protest going on here."

We moved on and stopped at the Smithsonian American History Museum. We had been planning on going there since the beginning of the trip.

As we walked in I was glad to get out of the cool and rainy weather we had had to walk in near the White House. The first thing I saw was a giant mass of mirrors all placed along the wall and at different angles so that it looked like a shiny, waving flag!

But the day would go by fast, so we had to get to business. We entered an opening in the wall that led us behind where the glass flag was. I would have taken some pictures, but a man next to the entrance told me I could not in this area.

We saw artifacts from the Revolutionary War--pieces of wood from a ship, scraps of the Star Spangled Banner, cannon balls, then the flag itself.
The Star-Spangled Banner, the centuries-old flag that our National Anthem was written about lay there in front of me. It was much larger than had I thought it was, and much more worn, too. There were holes in it. Some pieces were cut out and other parts looked stained. Yet there it was in front of me, still together and surviving after all these years. It was amazing.

We had to move on. We saw the statue of George Washington, holding the hilt of his sword out as if he was giving his defenses to the people.

Then we got to a room that showed recent inventions like bullet-proof material. We did not spend much time there because we needed to hurry to see most of the museum. Some places we would slow down if we were really interested, but this was not quite one of those places.

We passed through a maze of a room. Hallways and walls and little areas set aside were everywhere. The one we were walking through was about technology like electricity, then generators, then light bulbs. We even got to see one of Thomas Edison's notebooks!

Then we moved on. Cars of all sorts dotted the room. Then I saw one car that we owned! One that back at home we used regularly! If our van is old enough to be in the Smithsonian Museum, maybe it's time to get a new one.

We also saw one that my grandparents used to have, but I think they had gotten rid of it by now.

We traveled up to the third floor. We saw The Philadelphia, a boat that had been sunk in the Revolutionary War. It stayed under water in an upright position for centuries before it was found!

We stopped for lunch. Our two burgers, the fries and a drink ended up as a $20 bill! But what can you expect in Washington, DC? Or what's more, a Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC?

Then we entered an exhibit called The Price Of Freedom. It was one of the most memorable parts of the museum for me.

There I saw information and artifacts from the wars that America had been in--from the Revolutionary War to the war in Iraq. I saw George Washington's suit and his sword, a submarine from the Revolutionary War, a tree that had been completely split in two by the bullets of the Civil War, artifacts of the Spanish-American War, many televisions stacked on top of each other that all helped tell the story of the Vietnam War, packets of food that are dropped in Iraq and so many other things that it would take days to write about. I learned new things about the World Wars and the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the Korean War and many others. I don't think I will ever forget that part of the museum, because I really had seen just a little bit of the Price Of Freedom.

Then we went into the Abraham Lincoln Exhibit. I saw many things like his hat, suit, two molds of his face and more. I compared my hand with a mold of his and found that his are pretty large!

But when I got to the part where John Wilkes Boothe killed Lincoln, I was surprised to feel kind of angry. Before it had been a simple fact: After the Civil War, Lincoln was assassinated near the end of his Presidency. But now, when I saw his life with such detail, it became a reality: Just when life was getting good for Lincoln, when he could stop worrying, be happy, have the burden of the country lifted from his back, a vengeful man with a hatred of the North and of Lincoln killed him while he was finally doing something for himself rather than for others--relaxing at a theatre. And now he was dead.

But the killer could not undo what Lincoln had done and slavery was gone. With that thought, I left the Lincoln exhibit satisfied, with a new appreciation for our 16th President.

It was near closing time now. The day had gone by so fast! We got to see a few last things on the 2nd floor before leaving, like the Kermit the Frog puppet, a live-scale house from the pioneer days and more. My head ached from all the new information.

Mr. Mark picked us up and we went back to the church. On the way he ordered pizza. We walked to his house across the parking lot from the church and watched a movie while eating dinner there. It was a great way to end the day.

Finally we climbed into bed, exhausted and full of new memories.

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