Thursday, July 4, 2013

Think About What You Saw

Happy Independence Day! I have been anticipating for this day to come. We started the day with a breakfast buffet in the hotel, Mr. Ramsey was with us and over breakfast we talked about important things that we should think about and he also gave us valuable advice. We had a fun filled day planned and it started around 11:00 AM. We planned to visit the Holocaust Museum, various memorials, notable sights, and the big fireworks finale. Mr. Ramsey was really excited because he said that this was his first time in Washington D.C. 

Don't worry I was at a legal distance
We took a bus called the Circulator from our hotel to Washington since we were located in Georgetown. Once we arrived we took a short walk to see the White House. On our way there we saw the change in architecture once we got closer to the museums, monument, and memorials. One second we were walking in a modern neighborhood with glass buildings and the next we saw all these old, magnificent, sophisticated looking buildings. We saw the Old Executive Office Building and it was such a big and strong building. Soon enough we arrived at the north side of the White House. Just like the Pentagon, seeing pictures of it is absolutely nothing to compare to physically standing in front of it and seeing it with your own eyes. It was such a beautiful and flawless building. Standing there I really felt the powerful aura that it was emitting, I mean this is the President's house and many important businesses are conducted there. Of course I didn't want to waste this rare opportunity so I took a bunch of pictures, a few with the house by itself and a couple with the bunch. After spending a while to take it in we moved on. We walked past the US Department of the Treasury, unfortunately it was under recontruction so it wasn't picture perfect. 
It was under reconstruction so we couldn't visit it
We were heading to the Holocaust Museum next and that was a little bit away from where we were. Unfortunately there was a parade happening so we had to walk the long way around to get to the museum but on the super bright side we got to see parts of the parade. I just love the fact that even though it was an all American holiday, the parade included floats and performances from many different cultures. It had me thinking about how lucky I was to be able to live in the land of the free. As we walked down the street of the parade, I saw a lot of vendors selling drinks and food but one particular vendor stood out from all the rest. It was a Vietnamese lady and her son, they were selling corn and water. She had on a Vietnamese style outfit and she was also wearing a bamboo straw hat. The whole scene reminded me of where I came from and I had a brief moment of nostalgia. 

When we got close to the Holocaust Museum we saw some people expressing themselves on the opposite sidewalk. They had poster with big, bold letters that read "Impeach Obama". I have never seen anything like it before and I felt speechless for a moment. Then I remember that the world isn't all rainbows and butterflies and there are always going to be people out there who are going to be a part of the disagreeing party both in a good and bad way. 

After a bit more walking we finally arrived at the Holocaust Museum. I was really excited because I wanted to learn more about the Holocaust since what we learned at school was very vague. On the other hand I was not looking forward to the sad and tragic parts.

The outside of the museum had a sign that tells us to think about what we saw and I thought that was really deep. Things like the Holocaust happen because of extremely ignorant people and museums like this one expose us to the truth and the cruelty of it so that we are less ignorant--which gives us a chance at preventing such disasters in the future. Of course people are who they are but museums like this are a leap into preventing future genocides. The museum was strategically split into three different floors and in a flow so that we can see everything and then end up back near the entrance.

The first part was mostly about how Hitler came to be and how he obtained power. Then it moved on to how people were categorized based on race or religious beliefs and how Hitler treated the Jewish people. They also had a section on how America responded when they learned about what was happening in Germany. After that section came the part I was not so looking forward to. They showed exhibits on how Jews were put into ghettos and they also had some artifacts from that time.

Then came the concentration camps exhibits. They showed all the things that were done at the camps and how they decided on who lived and who to kill. There were videos that showed some extremely gruesome things that were being done to the Jews at the camp. Those videos were shown inside a wall so that children wouldn't accidentally see it.

No matter how many times I hear about it I just can't get over that fact that there are such awful and disgusting people out there who can stomach their unforgivable actions. I feel like such a wimp but I almost cried when I listened to a witness statement from the Nuremberg Trial. She was describing the moment when the Nazi was preparing all the Jews to be gassed. She said that one family had a little baby and the baby was cooing happily without a care and was totally oblivious to what was happening while her parent played with her with tears streaming down their faces. The museum ended with an exhibition of the survivors. We were all so caught up that we didn't even realize that three hours had passed since we came. 

We all left the museum with sad faces but that was over when we embarked on the journey to search for food. We decided on a Hungarian food stand and the food was actually very good. Sadly we had to say goodbye to Mr. Ramsey after we ate because he had to go back home. We then went to the Abraham Lincoln Memorial. I have away imagined it to be a decent sized place but it was just bigger that life. After taking some pictures with good ole Abe and picking up some souvenirs we went to see the Korean War Memorial and the Martin Luther King Junior Memorial. The view there was spectacular and we took lots of pictures. We hung out at MLK for a while before heading back to Abe's place to look for a spot to watch fireworks.  We found a center spot in front of the reflecting pool and settled down.
The fireworks started past nine and it was beautiful. I believe that we had one of the best views because the fireworks were front and center. The sound of it was really loud and you could really feel it in your heart. Some parts looked like it was raining big shiny glitter--which was just beautiful. A couple of them were assembled to look like a smiley face which was really cool. There was a sequence of them that spelled U-S-A, it was very clever.  The fireworks lasted for about 15 minutes and it ended with a lot of fireworks going off rapidly like a machine gun. I thought it was a great finish to a great show. Everyone started to leave after it ended and you would not believe how big the crowd was. The streets was a bit of chaos with everyone walking pretty much everywhere. We made through the crowd then started to head the hotel. After that walk, my legs felt like it went through a few rounds with a meat grinder.
Please go to the Photos tab to see more!
Tomorrow we are taking a train to the famous Big Apple. That's right New York! 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing, Loan. Once I started reading your blog I couldn’t stop.

    I’ve been around for a gazillion years and I read everything. What you were describing was not new to me at all. But the way you described it all made it sound so different than what I know. It was so enjoyable reading about how YOU saw things and the affect it all had on you.

    But how on Earth did you all get such a great vantage point to see the fireworks? I would have thought that a spot like that would have been staked out days in advance. How great it must have been for you all.