I shared his enthusiasm. A few years ago my family and I made such a pilgrimage … and returned with a deeper pride and commitment in our citizenship.
Our memorials are popular tourist attractions. Perhaps you already have visited many of them. In any case, these are some in D.C. and nearby states that have special meaning to me:
The White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., official residence of every President except George Washington.
The U S. Capitol, seat of the general government and symbol of American heritage. Through its halls have walked the great figures of U. S. history. Art and statuary treasures enhance the scene. You can obtain passes to the House and Senate galleries from your senator or congressman.
In the Exhibition Hall of the National Archives you can view the original documents of the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights.
The towering Washington Monument (555 feet) dominates the capital’s skyline as the most visible of presidential memorials.
Jefferson and Lincoln memorials, the Library of Congress with its ornate Great Hall, the restored Ford Theater where Lincoln was shot – each will leave a lasting impression with you.
That great storehouse of Americana, the Smithsonian Institution, can intrigue you for many days if you have the time. At its air and space museum you can see in one sweep of the eye the Wright Brothers’ pioneer craft, Lindbergh’s “Spirit of St. Louis” and space age vehicles including Apollo 11 of moon landing fame.
Displayed at Smithsonian is the giant but faded 15-stripe flag that survived the British bombardment in 1814. I hope it motivates you to visit Fort McHenry at Baltimore, scene of the actual shelling which inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, across the Potomac from Washington, is another major attraction. Countless American heroes are buried there, including Presidents William Howard Taft and John F. Kennedy. Don’t miss the colorful “change of the guard” ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
A drive across the beautiful Virginia countryside will reward you with unforgettable visits at Mount Vernon; Jefferson’s home “Monticello;” restored Colonial Williamsburg; Jamestown, “cradle of the nation,” and Yorktown where the British surrendered Oct. 19, 1781.
Richmond, capital of Virginia for more than two centuries, is a history buff’s paradise. You’ll want to linger at such historic places as the Confederate Museum and White House; the old St. John’s Episcopal Church where Patrick Henry gave his “liberty or death” speech; and the classic State Capitol, with its abundant statuary including the magnificent life-size statue of George Washington by the French artist Houdon.
Be sure to visit some of the historic shrines in Pennsylvania. For example, Independence Hall at Philadelphia where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were adopted.
You will never regret taking time to tour the scene of the Gettysburg Battlefield. As you read inscriptions on monuments honoring brave men of the Civil War, powerful visions of the past will stir in your mind.
And you will recall that at this same battlefield Abraham Lincoln later delivered one of history’s greatest oratorical gems, the Gettysburg Address.