Greetings from DC, land of the free, home of the brave and currently run by the clinically insane. When I mentioned to people our Girls Trip was tackling DC this year, the eyebrows raised and the expressions were puzzled. See that famous guy in the gif there? Yeah, that’s the face; I saw it often. But for our group of gals, DC just made sense. It’s a cool city for those who like excitement, nightlife and a bit of glitz and also for those who geek out at museums, memorials and landmarks. DC has all of that on lock.
I will admit that it seemed an odd time to visit, since my personal politics align more with the previous administration than the current. However, I think experiencing this political hotbed of a city now ended up making more of an impact on me. In a fog of nasty men doing even nastier deeds, the beauty and idealism of freedom and democracy shines through like a bright beacon of hope in the United States capitol. When the fights and marches of today seem so dire and imminent, being in a large space dedicated to democracy’s history and its importance put America’s current situation in perspective. As humans, we have lived through a lot of shit — and also a lot of joy — and this place is an in-your-face reminder of it.
The memorials are quiet and introspective and also brash and ebullient. The museums are anthologies of a rich history steeped in riches of both ideas and things. The green spaces are bigger and brighter than you think. And Arlington, where a sea of white markers stand in honour of the bravest of souls, will hit you right there.
I guess my biggest takeaway from the trip is that the idea of democracy is pretty great. It’s definitely not perfect, but it’s those democratic ideals that we need to cherish and protect, because it doesn’t take much to destroy them. A little change here to your civil rights, a little tweak there to your healthcare, a bit of a shift on foreign alliances, a small pivot on how people of a particular creed or race are treated. And POOF! The world you know and love is altered, taking steps backwards. But if history has taught us anything, it’s that people don’t take kindly to being forced to move backwards or told “not for you” by an elite few. And when pushed, boy do they push back. Let them eat cake, my ass.
The unfortunate thing about a long weekend spent in DC is that it’s way too short! I only skimmed the surface of it. I can’t wait to go back, but until then, here are a few democratic places of note…
The Lincoln Memorial
Sitting there all stoic. Larger than life. Fawned on by the masses. The saviour of the Union and the freer of slaves. To say Abraham Lincoln lived smack-dab in a turbulent time in history is a huge understatement.
As I strolled around his memorial, looking up at his serious face, reading his statements on equality, emancipation and the Union, and smiling at the kids climbing the “Four score and seven years ago…” speech, I was reminded at how remarkable this leader was. He made a difference. A difference to make life better for many rather than a select few. Not many elected leaders do that anymore. And that’s a damn shame, Abe.
“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” ~ Lincoln
Arlington National Cemetery
A visit to Arlington was high on my Washington list. Seeing the vast amount of white gravestones lined up in perfect rows spreading as far as the eye can see is humbling. A stark reminder of the human cost of war.
While we were trekking to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, I came across a group of kids forming a line in front of a soldier. Each one proceeded to shake his hand and thank him for his service. After snapping a pic, I went up and offered my hand and thanked him as well.
Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind. ~ JFK
The Capitol Building and The White House
I was all prepared to go visit the Capitol Building but didn’t realize it’s closed on Sundays. It’s like the only thing closed on a Sunday. Drat. Looked great from the outside though.
Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough. ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt
Oh, hey there, Trump!
Actually, the White House was empty the weekend we were visiting. And no, it wasn’t because of a golf course, the old man was touching an orb in Saudi Arabia. While our trip didn’t include a glowing sphere of mystical proportions, we did take a fun selfie and elected to buy some crap merchandise (see below).
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. ~ Martin Luther King Jr.
As a Canadian, I’m sorry…
…we couldn’t resist getting those gross hats.
I swore I wouldn’t buy one of those red hats, and actually said, “Are you kidding me?! No.” But the cheesy tourist photo opportunity was too good to resist. We love us some brash souvenir gifts. And in true democratic form, some hats were immediately removed after the photo and some stayed on. Freedom of choice for the win!