Tuesday, January 18, 2011

We love Washington, DC, #9

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr., Day!  I re-read his speech today here and then listened to it here.  It's powerful.  Take 16 minutes and read/listen to it yourself.  

"From every mountainside, let freedom ring.  When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, 'Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!'"

Every time we drive along the Mall I look over to the site where they are busily finishing his memorial, and I get excited by the prospect of its' completion.  The Martin Luther King, Jr., National Memorial is scheduled to open this August on the anniversary of his delivering the "I Have a Dream Speech."

In observance of this day commemorating a most extraordinary life, we joined with our favorite playing tourist buddies and headed to the National Museum of Natural History.  We have been here before, but there is so much to see, each visit is unique.  

Today, we started with the minerals and gemstones.  Caleb's idea.  We arrived moments before the doors opened and ahead of the massive crowds that assembled by the time we left.  Our first stop was the Hope Diamond.  In all the years I have lived in DC and the numerous times I have visited this museum, I have never actually seen the Hope Diamond in person.  There is always a long, Long, LONG line.  But, not today.

 The diamond is in a special setting right now and will soon be displayed either alone or in it's normal setting, or so the sign says.  I'm not sure why that's important, but then, a gemologist, or even a gemophile I am not.  The setting notwithstanding, it is a beautiful jewel, and ginormous.

 We actually spent the bulk of our visit looking at the minerals and other precious stones on display.  The boys were fascinated by the myriad colors of rock.  They wanted to know the names of what seemed like hundreds of specimens.  Hooray for good pronunciation skills!

 Here are Isaac and Nancy (aka tourist buddy) dancing to the music in their heads.  After minerals and gemstones we watched a movie on plate tectonics (twice), walked through the bug rooms, read even more difficult to pronounce scientific names in the animal skeleton room, and then finished with the hall of mammals (the taxidermists responsible for these animals should be very proud of themselves, they are very life-like).

Our kids are good for about 2 hours at museums so we headed out at lunch-time in search of rice and beans.  Isaac's idea.  It took so long to get to the restaurant that by the time we arrived, all 4 kids had fallen asleep.  The blame for this lies entirely with President Obama.  Not an exaggeration.  His motorcade of 15 vehicles and a helicopter, not to mention all the cop cars positioned along the route to block traffic, was between us and lunch for a ridiculously long time.

I read later today that the President, the First Lady and their two daughters had been on Capitol Hill doing a service project at an elementary school this morning.  So, now I feel a little guilty for being so irritated.  But, only just a little.  Shutting down a major traffic artery for 20+ minutes so he can be driven 12 blocks seems excessive to me, but, maybe it's not.  After all, I'm not a security expert either, and we still had a good day and a nice, if slightly delayed, lunch.  And, most importantly, we still love Washington, DC, presidential motorcade and all. 


Z. Marie said...

I don't think I've ever been there on a day the Hope Diamond wasn't completely surrounded by people. Cute photo!

Cassidy said...

So sorry I had to work and missed the fun outing. But glad I could send Nancy with her many necklaces and stuffed puppy to dance with Isaac. Kids are funny!


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