Mom and I at Dad’s grave in Arlington

Today (7/18/12), we went back into Washington D.C. The trip into the city confirmed our suspicions that Sunday really was the best day to go. Weekday traffic was definitely bad. We began by heading to Arlington. Arlington is still an active cemetery, and we noticed two funerals being prepared as we got there–one with the full band and caissons. Having been to my father’s memorial at Arlington, I always feel a connection with those in the same situation. We had planned to just stop by and see my dad’s marker, which I have had the opportunity to do every year since he died, but as we were at the visitor center, one of my students got a text from his mom that he may have a relative at Arlington. I had the privilege of walking to the main visitor center with him and showing him the ropes on how to search for an ancestor. For those who may have relatives there, if the person has died since 1999, you can search the computer in the lobby area and print a map to their grave. If they have died prior to 1999, the attendants can help you locate the site. It was a surreal moment when my student’s relative’s name popped up. After visiting my dad’s grave, we were able to find my student’s great-uncle, discovering that he had served in World War II, Korea, and Viet Nam and received a bronze star. It was a profound time for him to sit and connect with a relative he hadn’t known he had. An amazing experience indeed.

The Capitol Building–Not to be confused with the White House

After Arlington, we drove to the Capitol where we went to Pete Visclosky’s office (in the House of Representatives building) to pick up our tour. We opted to go with him, rather than the Speaker of the House my mom had arranged, because one of my student’s dads worked on his campaign, and he’d gotten to march in the parade with him. The tour began by meeting Pete for pictures on the steps of the Capitol building (Cool free souvenir).

Painting of Washington on the interior Dome

Then, our tour guide took us around the building. Some of the highlights included the inside view of the dome and the wishing star (stand on it and make a wish–apparently, it’s referred to in The Lost Symbol), the hall of statues, the original areas of Congress, and the current location. Being here always reminds me of National Treasure where Nicholas Cage gets profoundly moved by unrolling the Declaration of Independence in Independence Hall. There is just something about standing in the places where so much history has taken place. We got to stand on the spot where Abraham Lincoln’s desk sat when he was a young Congressman…Incredible!

Spot where Abe Lincoln’s desk stood

We had planned to stop by Manassas on the way home, as it was nearby, but once we navigated our way through the “out of the city traffic,” we had had as much as we could take. Tomorrow is our last official site seeing day before we have the long drive home…Who knows what we’ll see on the way 🙂