My plane from Houston to DC ran late. At the last minute they had to switch planes because the plane we were to take had ingested a bird on landing and that engine was running was running hot. The plane switch put us about an hour late taking off. The flight was a good one. I sat next to a retired Air Force pilot who was going to Maryland to visit his daughter’s family which included grandchildren.
I arrived at Baltimore/Washington airport after 10:30, by the time I got my bag and found a shuttle to the hotel it was 11:30. The shuttle ride took almost two hours, but it was interesting. One of person on the shuttle was a soldier returning to Walter Reed Army Hospital. He was a young soldier, a member of the Missouri National Guard, who had been wounded in Iraq by a road side bomb.
The soldier had been a Walter Reed for four months and it looked as though he was going to be there for a long time to come. He still had pins and other objects protruding out of the lower part of one leg. His second leg and his arms were terribly scarred. The solder was in good spirits and spoke a good deal and answered our questions as we meandered through the streets of DC.
After dropping the soldier at Walter Reed I was taken to my hotel, the Marriott at Wardman Park. By the time I had checked in, gotten to my room and showered, it was after 1:30 AM. I set a wakeup call for 6:30 and dragged myself into bed. I crawled from bed, still very tired. I decided to walk down to the bottom of the hill the Marriott was situated on to find breakfast. The front of the hotel was beautifully landscaped. There were thousands of tulips planted and they were all in full bloom. What a beautiful sight. It brightened my day to walk among them.
After a quick breakfast, I took the longer route back to the hotel, so that I could enjoy the flowers some more. Then it was time to start work. Our union business began at eight. Our local union sent Bruce G. and me here on union business. Bruce had taken George, his 13 year old son, with him to this event. We spent some time going over union issues, then we caught the metro and went to the House and Senate office buildings to meet with Louisiana representatives and senators (mostly with a member of their staff.
I got separated from Bruce and his son after we had met with a member of Senator Landrieu’s office. We had to meeting with the union at 4:30, and I had a little time to kill, so I ran (literally) down Pennsylvania and Constitution Avenues to the National Archive Building. I had promised myself that I would make every effort to see the Constitution on this trip to DC. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are all housed in the National Archives.
I was AWED to be in the presence of these great documents. Wow. I was overawed to be so close and to see with my own eyes these great items of American liberty. I’ve read them and loved them; I have studied them and have read so much about them the men who gave them to us. It was, for me, the fulfilment of a dream.
There was another bonus. At the archives is an ancient copy of the Magna Carta, it is a great, great grandfather to our documents of political liberty. Our own liberty is a direct heir of the principles that were established at Runnymede, when King John signed the Magna Carta in 1215.
After paying homage to the great documents, I returned to Capitol Hill for our union rally. I found Bruce and George there. When all was over we headed back to the Marriott. Before climbing hill to the hotel, we stopped for a beer at one of the restaurants near by.
Not far from the hotel are a number of ethnic restaurants. After I cleaned up I ventured out once more and decided to have my supper at a Thai restaurant. My waitress was a young lady who had recently emigrated from Thailand. I differed to her in choosing my food. The main course was a spice seafood dish that contained scallops, muscles, calamari and shrimp and other items. My portion was sizable and it tasted very good. I washed it all down with a couple of bottles of Singha which is a Thai beer. It has potent 6% alcohol content. I found it to have an interesting flavour that went well with the spicy Thai food. After supper I was overly full, but my only plan was to go to my room and finish the, The Stuarts: A Study in English Kinship (the book I had picked for this trip).
Next morning we meet again at 8 AM. The union business finished about 1 PM. Bruce, George and I then took the Metro to Arlington. At Arlington National Cemetery Bruce and George took the bus tour, which I did last year, but I decided to walk. The grounds of Arlington are very pretty and serene. I made my way to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and watched the changing of the guard. It is a solemn and sober sceptical that every American should experience.
After the Changing of the Guard I strolled over to Arlington House. George Washington Parke Custis choose a beautiful place to build this house. The view from the front porch is, even today, spectacular. The house is being renovated and all the furniture is gone, but you can still walk through it. I asked the park ranger what part of the house was it that Robert E. Lee made his decision to turn down the position as head of Union forces, and instead stand with his home state of Virginia in the then quickly approaching War of Northern Aggression, which is commonly referred to as the American Civil War.
After Arlington we visited the Korean, Vietnam, and World War II Memorials all of which are very nice. From the WWII Memorial we walked to the Washington Monument, which is impressive. Earlier we had also visited the shrine built to Lincoln.
After visiting the Washington Monument we caught the Metro back to Washington. Bruce and I had a beer at the hotel bar and then we parted company once more. I went down the hill to an Indian Restaurant. I decided on a lamb dish cooked with a lot of curry. It was very spice and very good. I had a 22 oz Taj Mahal, which is an Indian beer.