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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Basic Biittner

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Travelin' Man, part One

Putting things into Perspective - This should give you an idea of the size of the statue at the new MLK Memorial in Washington D.C. Photo by Janet Whitney.
Sometimes I hesitate about sharing news of my vacation experiences with readers, feeling perhaps that no one else is interested. But every once in a while, people tell me that they really enjoy reading about this stuff. So for the benefit of those people, I will enlighten you on my travels in August and September 2011. For the rest of you, don't read my column for the next couple of weeks.

During the last week of August, my wife and I traveled to Alexandria, Virginia to see our daughter, son-in-law, and one-and-only grandchild. Our 5-year-old grand-daughter had visited us in our home for a couple of weeks earlier this summer, so we thought it was about time to see her again, right?

The family recently moved back to the Washington, D.C. area, and I don't think I'll ever tire of visiting our nation's capital. I visited with my parents once or twice when I was a teenager, and then later my brother lived there, prompting another visit. As I stated earlier, my daughter and son-in-law also lived there previously, so while we're not frequent visitors to the area, we have been there a few times.

A Great Man - The Legacy of Thomas Jefferson stands head and shoulders above what you and I hope to accomplish. Photo by Janet Whitney
I like to see any special new attractions when I'm in D.C., if there are any. And, luckily for me, my trips have been spaced at just about the right intervals that I am able to catch something new and different each trip. A few trips ago, for example, the Vietnam Memorial Wall was the new thing, and on our last two trips were were able to view the WWII Memorial and the Newseum, which is basically a building where all kinds of news items from the past - be it newspaper, radio or television - are featured.

On most of our trips we usually visit at least one of the Smithsonian Museums as well, and on this trip, my wife and I had a day out with our granddaughter at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, where we got a chance to view displays including dinosaur skeletons, an enormous collection of natural gems and minerals, artifacts of early man, an insect zoo, a live coral reef and much more. We also went to see "The Smurfs Movie" and enjoyed that (except for the prices, of course). Janet and I also had a day to ourselves and elected to spend that day visiting the "new" attraction - in this case, the Martin Luther King Memorial. The MLK memorial was supposed to have had its dedication ceremony on the day after we arrived, but that was postponed due to the threat of Hurricane Irene. As it turned out, Irene pretty much missed the D.C. area, and it would have been a pretty nice day to have had the ceremony. As it was, we went down to the Mall a couple of days later and were very impressed by the tribute to Dr. King. The memorial is set on the edge of the Tidal Basin, which is a small body of water which is located within the area on which numerous monuments and memorial structures are located on Washington's famous Mall. After completing our visit at the MLK Memorial, since it was a nice day. we continued our walk around the Mall and visited the FDR Memorial, which we had also never seen. My wife and I were surprised at the size of this tribute to FDR, as we were under the mistaken belief that he memorial was simply a statue of the President. It, however, much more. The FDR Memorial covers 7 acres of ground, and has two waterfalls, several famous Roosevelt quotes etched on a series of walls, and a statue of FDR's wife Eleanor and a tribute to her service as the United States' Ambassador to the U.N. in the 1960s. We decided to continue our walk just a little further and visit the one Washington D.C. memorial we had never visited previously, the Jefferson Memorial, stopping for a bite to eat at a sandwich stop along the way.

Waterfalls at FDR - Yours truly at one of two waterfalls at the FDR Memorial in D.C. Photo by Janet Whitney.
I had heard that "there really isn't much" at the Jefferson Memorial, and that's basically true. There's a large statue of Jefferson and a nice gift shop, at which I purchased a book I really love , '1000 People Who Shaped America.' I found it the perfect book for a person like me - a history geek with a short attention span. It consists of very brief thumbnail sketches about famous people in American History - everyone, literally, from Betsy Ross to Rush Limbaugh. People who - like 'em or not - have had a place in shaping the history of our country.

As you can see from the photos, I am not above (or below, as the case may be) posing with people of greater stature than I.

FDR and Fala - These statues of a seated FDR and his dog Fala, are just a part of the FDR Memorial on the Washington Mall. Photo by Dan Whitney
Next up - another memorable music trip with my big brother.

'I Hate War' - A quote from the man who guided the U.S. through the course of "The Great War," WW II. Photo by Dan Whitney.

Dan Whitney
Basic Biittner