Monday, March 18, 2013

dc day by day: five

Monday, day five, was the first day the forecast was actually somewhat accurate. The weatherman called for rain and snow and we got cold, cold, cold and rain. But at least we were prepared. 

We drove into the city that morning and found parking in a garage on the south side of the mall. We met Michelle at the Air and Space Museum and wandered around there for a little bit. They had some pretty neat exhibits, including one about flight attendants in the early days of air travel - I would have been too old, too tall, too married and almost too heavy to be a flight attendant. Wow. 

Late morning, Michelle, Kate and I ventured off down the street to the much-anticipated United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Ryan and Mike watched the other three kids while we went. I'm not exactly sure what I was expecting from this museum or how I might feel as I made my way through the exhibits. But what I did see and feel and experience is almost beyond description. I could have spent hours and hours slowly making my way down the corridors reading each and every word. Some things I read caused tears to flow freely down my cheeks. Others found my jaw dropped to the ground in disbelief. And others yet had me completely disgusted with the way human life and individual worth were completely disregarded in so many terrible and horrible ways. One plaque in particular about the disposal of handicapped children stopped me in my tracks. The tears flowed freely and I said a silent prayer of gratitude that Leah was born to me, in America, in 2007. There was an exhibit with piles and piles of shoes gathered from concentration camps - boots, shoes and sandals from men, women and children piled on top of one another. The laces, buckles, leather, canvas and more so real and personal. We also walked through a room with piles of hair clipped and shaved from prisoners - the strands of hair of all colors, all clumped together. The tour led us though a rail car used to transport prisoners to various concentration camps. Rail cars meant for 30-40 people that were crammed with 100+ in sweltering heat with no food. Beneath the rail car, I saw suitcases - colorful, fabulous vintage suitcases packed by the rail car passengers themselves. Passengers who thought they were packing their belongings for a future very different than what actually came to be. Those suitcases made me cry. There was an exhibit on the children complete with artwork and letters, tiny shoes, clothes, toys and dolls that was heart wrenching. We viewed footage on video monitors caged in walls high enough to let adults look in over the top, but block children from seeing images they should never have to see. We ended our mostly narrative tour of the three storied museum with a video of six holocaust survivors and their experiences. If you ever find yourself in Washington, D.C. I highly recommend standing in line to get tickets and standing in line again to have the opportunity to spend two hours of your life learning more about what happened. It was indescribable. 

After Michelle and I finished, we swapped with Ryan and Mike and they toured the Holocaust Museum while Michelle and I took the kids to the Natural History Museum. We spent the afternoon brightening our spirits a bit by learning about all things dinosaur, animal, rock and insect. We fed Kate to the dinosaurs, pretended we were elephants, learned Kate-a-potamus doesn't like her namesake, goofed off like monkeys and got to see the Hope Diamond. It's big. Brixton even showed off his sheer strength to strangers by demonstrating how many push ups he can do. 
We got caught in a rainstorm on our way back to the cars - good thing we're runners! 

Because of the rain we cut our museum-ing short and didn't make it to the other end of the mall to see the Capitol Building, archives or library {I know, government information library girl never saw THE library. Ridiculous.}. We instead headed to Georgetown {where we got caught in some amazing traffic} for dinner at Old Glory before we headed back to our hotel. 

Day five was more of an emotionally draining day than the others, but well worth it. 


Josh and Laura said...

These posts are getting me so excited to go to DC! I'll have to refer to your blog when we make our itinerary :) I loved reading your thoughts on the holocaust museum. Sounds like a neat, but emotional experience. Hopefully Josh and I can check it out. I went to a few holocaust museums in Germany and I will never forget the feelings I had.

Amy said...

I must go to the Holocaust museum. I didn't make it there when I was in dc, but it's at the top of my list for next time. The Holocaust museum we have in Dallas just isn't that great. Love these posts!