Thursday, June 30, 2011

Eighth Day in Washington, D.C.

Today we were up and out early and headed to the Bureau of Printing and Engraving.  We passed it yesterday and there was a ticket booth where you had to reserve a time and ticket to get in.  We passed by at 3:00 in the afternoon and all the tickets were gone.

While looking at their website last night I found out you have to get there fairly early because once the tickets were gone that was it for the day.  They’re free but they have to limit the number of people inside.

We arrived at the ticket booth by 10:30 and got the next available tour which was at 1:45.  We decided that while we were waiting we’d go to the Holocaust Museum, which was right next door.  Pictures were not allowed in most of the museum so I just got what I could.  I had resisted seeing this museum because the whole Holocaust thing is very disturbing to me and I didn’t want to see any more pictures of dead bodies piled up in graves.  There weren’t any displays of that unless you got tickets and we didn’t have time for that.  It was mostly the history of the Nazis, their propaganda, and anti-Semitism.




There are still so many people that have never been seen again since being separated from their families.  Most don’t know if their missing family member is alive or dead since 1,100 of those were children.


You can light candles to remember those killed at the various Concentration Camps



What’s unbelievable is that genocide still goes on today.




From there we headed next door for our 1:45 tour of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.  First we had to go through the Visitor’s Center while waiting for our tour.



Every museum we’ve been to we’ve had to go through Security checks


The only place I could take pictures in this museum was the Visitor’s Center.  They wouldn’t let anybody take pictures of the printing of the money.  LOL

This is what One Million Dollars looks like in ten dollar bills.


The U.S. Department of the Treasury first issued paper U.S. currency in 1862 to make up for the shortage of coins and to finance the Civil War. There was a shortage of coins because people had started hoarding them; the uncertainty caused by the war had made the value of items fluctuate drastically. Because coins were made of gold and silver their value didn't change much, so people wanted to hang onto them rather than buy items that might lose their value.  Paper money really isn’t paper at all but 25 percent linen and 75 percent cotton.  The largest denomination printed today is the one hundred dollar bill and is mostly used by tourists.



Looks like I’m worth $1,491,200


Since they don’t make these anymore maybe I could have one…


We finished up in the gift shop and stepped outside just as two Marine helicopters flew over headed in the direction of the White House.  Could it be the Prez or the Veep??


From there we headed back to the Metro and hopped on the train home.  After we got off we stopped on the way home at a Chinese Buffet that we’ve passed every single day.  It was disappointing food but at least we got that craving out of the way.

Not sure where we’re going tomorrow but we’re thinking we might just go to the White House and do the tour and then to the Capitol for that tour.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Seventh Day in Washington, D.C.

Today we hopped on the Metro to Union Station where we booked a tour to Arlington Cemetery.  We had passed it on our Double Decker Tour but didn’t stop.




Arlington Cemetery is across the Potomac River in Virginia.  It’s a very sad and humbling place to visit.  It’s unbelievable how many graves are there.  They used to use large grave markers but now they are all the same size, shape and color.  It used to be that anybody who served and their families could be buried there but they are running out of room so now, only active duty or retired soldiers having served 20 or more years can be buried here.  Dependent children under the age of 21 can also be buried here. There are certain others who can be buried here as well.  If you click here it shows the entire list.

One of the most famous buried here is President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline Kennedy.  They also have 2 newborns buried with them.

President Kennedy and William Taft are the only two presidents buried at Arlington.


Mrs. Kennedy had expressed a desire to mark the president's grave with an eternal flame similar to that of the French Unknown Soldier in Paris. The Washington Gas Company was contacted and a propane-fed torch was selected, as it could be safely lit during the funeral the following day.



President Kennedy’s brothers, Robert and Edward (Teddy) are also buried here and are the only ones to have a white cross.



From there we headed to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers.  There are three interred there.  One from World War I, one from World War II and one from the Korean War.  There used to be one from the Vietnam War.  However, due to modern day technology, the one from the Vietnam war was identified from DNA and no longer is there.

We got there just as they were doing the Changing of the Guard.  There is a Marine from the 3rd US Infantry maintains vigil around the clock.  He paces 21 steps alongside the tomb, pauses 21 seconds, then returns.  The Changing of the Guards takes place every half hour during the summer.





The USS Maine Memorial is the mast from the battleship.  It honors the 260 men who were killed when the ship was sunk off Cuba in 1898.


There are also memorials for the Space Shuttle and the soldiers killed in a botched rescue attempt for the Iran hostages




Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier of World War II is buried here.


That was the major part of our day but there are SO many memorials around we had to tear ourselves away and go back to D.C.

We were going to take a rest on a bench in this park but as we walked toward the bench we noticed a bunch of soldier statues in the park.  We realized we were right by the Korean War Memorial.  Well, we couldn’t miss that!  This has to be the most impressive memorial of all!





Next stop was the Lincoln Memorial.  I was here several years ago and saw the water in the reflecting pool but it’s now empty as they are repairing the numerous leaks.

The reason I mention it here is because it goes from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument.


Lincoln Memorial (I’m shooting right into the sun)



Gettysburg Address (click on it if you want to read it)


Several Countries have honored Lincoln with their own stamps


The making of the memorial


From there we headed down Constitution Ave in search of the memorial for the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence.  We found it with no problem.  Unfortunately there are LOTS of ducks here and they poop on everything.  There is not much cleaning going on with this memorial and it looks like not a lot of people visit it.  I had to because it’s part of my National Parks Passport and I had to get a stamp.


The most recognized signature




From there we headed to dinner.   As we were leaving the restaurant we crossed the street to the Metro and noticed another Memorial.  It was the Navy Memorial.  How cool is that??  My dad served 20 years in the Navy so I felt I was honoring him by visiting this Memorial.





Whew, there are SO many Memorials and museums here.  We’ve been here for a week and a half and have seen SO much but there is still LOTS more to see.  Tomorrow we’re off to see more.  Rod really wants to see the Holocaust Museum and I want to see the Bureau of Printing and Engraving and they’re right next to each other so that’s our plan.