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Thursday, November 7, 2013


In many ways, touring buildings, monuments and memorials can be utterly boring.  However, this is Washington, D.C., and everything is historic.  But we all forget history, and need regular reminders, for who remembers that the city of Washington was named after our First President, George Washington?  When I first arrived in our National Capital in 1979 to work in the U.S. Senate, I kept pinching myself, am I really here?  But because I lived in Falls Church (across the street one way was Arlington, and other, Alexandria) for three years, I never bothered to take a tour.

Today, according to Panda Travel (I'm one of more than 200 from Hawaii here to on Saturday attend the University of Hawaii versus Navy football game to be held at Annapolis), I will have a monumental experience, and it was:
  • the U.S. Capitol

On the dome is the Statue of Freedom:

The Statue of Freedom is 6 meters (or 19.5 feet) tall, and by law, no other statue in D.C. can be taller.  Thus Lincoln, sitting in his Memorial, is only 19 feet high.  But, ah, if he stood up, he would be 28 feet 6.5 inch tall.  Right under the dome is:

Hawaii is represented by King Kamehameha:

We went into the cafeteria for lunch, and I just had to have the Senate Bean Soup, with the following meal costing $13:

Frankly, I remember not particularly liking this soup, and, in fact, The Best Soups in the World reported that "it unfortunately leaves a lot to be desired."  The soup is basically northern (Michigan) navy beans, southern ham hock and onions, but note that this bowl above also shows various vegetables, including celery, garlic, parsley, mashed tomatoes and carrots.  There is a hint of cumin.  It has been three decades, but I don't remember the soup being so fanciful.  To the left is what I recall, all whitish (I think they changed it!!!), and you can actually buy a can to the right.  Anyway, the visit was nostalgic, both the soup and the tour.

The next stop was the:
  • National World War II  Memorial (there is no WWI Memorial, nor any Civil War Memorial, mainly because veterans of these wars needed to initiate the effort):

First opened in 2004, it has two "Kilroy was here" engravings.  

Next came the first war memorial, designed (beating 1,441 other submissions) by Maya Lin (photo below at age of 21) in 1981, who was still an undergraduate at Yale, and today is a prominent architectural designer.  Her father was dean of College of Fine Arts at Ohio University, while her aunt, Lin Huiyin, is said to be the first architect in China.  Maya was born of Chinese immigrants in the USA, and did not realize she was Chinese until later in life.

  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall

Note the Fall colors!  Next came the most popular monument in DC with 6 million visitors/year (the National Museum of Natural History draws 7.6 million/year, while the National Air and Space Museum gets 6.8 million--interestingly, the two sites I plan to visit before I leave DC--they are all free, although there is a charge for things like IMAX showings):
  • Lincoln Memorial

The view from the Lincoln Memorial towards the Washington Monument and Capitol:

  • Korean War Veterans Memorial was dedicated in 1995:

  • White House happens to be the first Federal building in DC, with the Capitol #2:

The thought of touring for 8 hours was intimidating, but, as I regularly walk 5 hours on a golf course and swing perhaps several hundred times (including those practice swings), I expected no physical problems.  However, 90% of the time involved standing or sitting and waiting.  No wonder I don't like tours. 
Well, Super Typhoon Haiyan strengthened to at least 195 MPH, making this the most powerful ocean storm to reach land in history (Camille in 1969 into Mississippi reached just under 190 MPH--I drove by the coastline before and could not after, for the road disappeared):

Haiyan is just now blowing into Guiuan, then will go on to Ormoc, Bogo and Bantayan, finally into the South China Sea and towards Danang.  There will be a significant loss of life.  The country suffers from 20 typhoons/year, and, last year, Typhoon Bopha killed 1,100 and destroyed a billion dollars of homes and other infrastructure.


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