Washington is on a scale I never thought it would have. No television shows I have seen paint such a marvellous picture as walking through the streets. The buildings feel as if they are cast within an Ionic dreamscape. Everywhere you look is an important building, or something of historical significance.
Our train pulls into the station. We disembark and find our way into the streets, below the gaze of the solemn faces above us in Union Station. Outside, it is cold, overcast and late in the afternoon. With full packs we decide to walk to our AirBnB for the night - 7km away.
I stand in front of the Lincoln Memorial. His face crafted in stone and etched in eternity as a president who survived the Civil War but not an assassins gun shot. Each part of the statue looks as if it was crafted with a fine eye for detail, from his boot that hangs over the edge, to the hair on his head. I wonder if the artists took shortcuts when working on the hair we cannot see.
We turn to leave Abe’s stollen face and turn towards the Washington Memorial, a great distance beyond the Reflecting Pool outside. I shake my head in disbelief that it can be this big. So much history, so many years. I have not seen revolutions like this city has been through, wars, upheavals, dreams...
Washington seems to be crafted in time, on a scale I keep trying to comprehend, but can’t seem to get my head around. Abraham Lincoln was carved from 28 blocks of marble in New England and then transported to Washington where he was finished. Marble from four states was brought in to create the memorial. A scale I cannot comprehend.
Martin Luther stands stoic, over looking a sea of faces, all individually coloured, gathered to reflect on the life of a man who marked his place in time. Jefferson stands surrounded by his quotes that pushed for education. Roosevelt sits upon a wheel chair looking upon the bronzed bread lines he saw happen within his own country, under his rule.
Each memorial speaks to a historic figure, in a time that has not been forgotten because of strong leaders.
If the quotes of those who have gone before us echo among the hallways, and those of today fall upon deaf ears, what kind of generation are we raising? What kind of culture are we cultivating? What kind of people will we leave after we have passed from this mortal coil?
The cherry blossoms are out. The white and pink flowers have budded on the trees, a stark contrast to the brown branches that would have filled the sky a month or two ago. The cherry trees line that lakes and surround the FDR Memorial, which Roger and I walk through, absorbing the quotes and looking at the statutes of Franklin Roosevelt around the memorial.
We have returned to the Lincoln Memorial to see what it is like under lights. The view has softened a little, but his resolve has not. The view of the Washington Monument is even more impressive, the long tall column - that was in the background of all our walking through the day - shines off the still Reflecting Pool. We cannot see the peak of the Washington Memorial through the top of the pool.
We walk homewards. The dark city streets pass below our feet. We chat about our plans for the next day, things that caught our attention, thinking of the West Wing.
We are staying in Anacostia, a suburb that is feels a little odd. The streets have broken bricks, the sirens ring in the distance. We feel safe, but there is an odd undercurrent, a unexplained feeling that something isn’t quite right.
We walk past a sign that says “You Are Entering A Drug Free Zone”. We make a quip about necessity for a sign like that. We stroll past a few men standing behind a car. The group are not very loud, but they look like they know each other. A man walks towards them, with a greeting.
We get inside and put our bags down after a long day. Sitting down after strolling 27kms around DC. Two shots sound from outside. Roger walks back into the room asking if I heard the shooting. About ten minutes later sirens are heard in the street.
Busy day in DC.