After New York City, DC (as they call the Washington DC) was a pleasant change! The contrast is sharp – DC has no skyscrapers (what a relief!!!) and roads are broad and clean. There are lots of open spaces, greenery and more sensible tourist attractions.
We started from our hotel in New York City by about 8.30 am. The journey from New York City to DC took us through Delaware and New Jersey. It was a slow and relaxed coach ride. During this journey we introduced ourselves to fellow tourists in the group. We reached DC by about 2 pm. Lunch was at an Indian restaurant called as “White Tiger”.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, “the District”, or simply D.C., is the capital of the USA. The centres of all three branches of the U.S. federal government are located in the District, as are many of the nation’s monuments and museums. Washington, D.C., hosts 176 foreign embassies as well as the headquarters of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organization of American States (OAS) and many more.
The National Mall (a peculiar name for a large, open park area) is in the centre of the city. The Washington Monument and the Jefferson Pier are located near the centre of the mall, south of the White House. Also located on the mall are the Lincoln Memorial, the National World War II Memorial at the east end of the Reflecting Pool, the Korean War Veterans Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Directly south of the mall, the Tidal Basin features rows of Japanese cherry blossom trees that originated as gifts from the nation of Japan.
Our first sight seeing stop was the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. The Smithsonian Institution is an educational foundation chartered by Congress in 1846 that maintains most of the nation’s official museums and galleries in Washington, D.C. The U.S. government partially funds the Smithsonian, thus making its collections open to the public free of charge. The most visited of the Smithsonian museums in 2010 was the National Air and Space Museum located on the National Mall. This holds the largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft in the world. It was established in 1976. Here we could see and touch the moon rock, see aircrafts (as they had evolved), including the first aircraft in history made by the Wright Brothers and lots of space modules and rocket models. This museum is one of the best which I ever saw.
When we came out of this museum, it had started raining. At this point, Ms Carrol, our Guide joined us. She is a old women who has a passion for history and is very knowledible. She first took us to the US Capitol Building. The Capitol building is marked by its central dome above a rotunda and two wings, one for each chamber of Congress: the north wing is the Senate chamber and the south wing is the House of Representatives chamber. Above these chambers are galleries where visitors can watch the Senate and House of Representatives. It is an example of the neoclassical architecture style. The statue on top of the dome is the Statue of Freedom.
Next, we saw the White House from outside. The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the President of the United States.
The next stop for us, after the White House was the Lincoln Memorial. The Lincoln Memorial is an American memorial built to honour the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. The central hall of the monument contains the solitary figure of Lincoln sitting in contemplation. Abraham Lincoln remains to be the most loved president even today.
Our next stops at were two war memorials – Vietnam Memorial and Korean Memorial. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a national memorial in Washington, D.C. It honours U.S. service members of the U.S. armed forces who fought in the Vietnam War. Stone for the wall of this memorial came from Bangalore, and was deliberately chosen because of its reflective quality. Inscribed on the walls are the names of servicemen who were either confirmed to be KIA (Killed in Action) or remained classified as MIA (Missing in Action) during the Vietnam War.
The Korean War Veterans Memorial commemorates those who served in the Korean War. The memorial is in the form of a triangle intersecting a circle. Within the walled triangle are 19 stainless steel statues. The figures represent a squad on patrol, drawn from each branch of the armed forces; fourteen of the figures are from the U.S. Army, three are from the Marine Corps, one is a Navy Corpsman, and one is an Air Force Forward Air Observer. They are dressed in full combat gear, dispersed among strips of granite and juniper bushes which represent the rugged terrain of Korea. When reflected on the wall, there appear to be 38 soldiers, representing the 38th parallel.
The take away from our visist of Washington DC was the opportunity to have a glimpse of the history of this great nation. I am really impressed with the ideals of freedom, equality and enterprise which the American nation holds in high esteem. This has made them produce great minds, build a great political and administrative system and become the most powerful nation in the world. We checked into Hotel Marriot Greenbelt, Maryland and were relieved to have our dinner at the hotel itself (otherwise, we would have gone again to an Indian restaurant and returned late in the night!).