Best National Park Ranger Talk Ever

We decided to take an Old Town Trolley tour of Washington D.C. The Old Town Trolley is one of those tour buses that takes you around to all the sights in a city and lets you get off and then grab another one of the buses to continue the tour. They have a special – pay for one day, ride for two. Today was the first day of our tour.

The other day we took a look around the United States Naval Memorial Plaza but did not go inside the facility to check out what they had. Today we started the day by going inside to see what was inside. We watched a really interesting and informative movie on the submarines and surface ships that make up today’s navy. From there we went and started our tour. We like taking the tours because we learn little pieces of information that we might not have heard otherwise. Today we learned that when President Lincoln was in office he would come to the lobby of the Willard Hotel to listen to the requests of the average citizen. This where the term lobbying and lobbyist come from.

To tour the White House you have to contact your Congressman in advance to make a request months in advance to get approved. We were not aware of this so no tour of the White House for us. The Visitors Center for the White House is located across the street in the Department of Commerce Building.  We stopped in the Visitors Center and learned a lot about the White House. I did not know that in 1948 the entire inside of the building had to be reconstructed because of rot of the load bearing wood structure of the building. As part of this reconstruction they took apart a bulldozer and re-assembled it inside the structure to dig out a deep basement.

From there we went to see Union Station. When it was built is was the largest train station in the world. I believe the tour guide said it now the second largest after New York City’s Grand Central Station. In addition to all the trains that make stops at the station it also houses the largest food court in Washington, D.C.

After lunch in Union Station we again boarded our tour bus and headed out to Arlington National Cemetery. There really aren’t words to describe the emotions as you look across acres and acres of land that hold the remains of so many that have given their lives to defend our country and the principles it was founded on. We visited the grave site of JFK and witnessed the precision of the “Changing of the Guard” at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery

We then visited the Lincoln Memorial for the second time (we stopped there the night we arrived in the area). National Park Rangers give tours or talks in many of the sites that are maintained and administrated by the National Park Service. We have attended a number of the tours or talks over the last few months and have had some good and interesting talks.  As we were walking down the steps of the Lincoln Memorial Park Ranger Lowell Fry was standing on a landing having recently started a Ranger Talk. His talk focused on Civil Rights in the United States from before the Civil War through the time of President Lincoln and continued through to the current time. His talk was incredible – this is a man that loves his job and sharing his enthusiasm and knowledge with others. All I can say is, I wish I knew when he was going to do the talk again – I would show up with my video recorder.

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

We then visited two of the War Memorials located on the mall between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. We stopped at the Korean War Memorial and then walked over to the World War II Memorial. 

Korean War Memorial

Korean War Memorial

World War II Memorial

World War II Memorial

Our last stop of the day (except for dinner) was the Washington Monument.

Washington Monument

Washington Monument

Between Arlington National Cemetery and all the Memorials it really was a day of remembering those that have given their lives for the United States.

(Leslie’s comment: It was great being able to go to the National Registry and see my grandfather’s name listed with what he did. It was very sad to see all the death that is caused by war. The Navy memorial movie talked about the good the Navy is doing by working with third world countries and going into areas with their floating hospital and helping them with surgeries they would not have access to any other way. I can continue to hope that these types of actions will lead us to a more peaceful time.)

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