I took a business trip to ASU’s Washington, D.C. center a few weeks ago. I had not been to our nation’s capital since I was 15, so I was very excited to see some of the sites again. With my stay lasting almost a week, I took advantage of the fact I had the weekend off and of what I could do after the work day finished.
Surprisingly, I know a lot of people in D.C. My cousin Jeremy has been there for nearly 10 years and one of my closest friends from college is now living in the area, along with several other friends from college and high school.
I’m going to spare you the details of my daily adventures, but I do want to showcase some of the highlights of my trip. The main reason I was in town was for a workshop called “Science Outside The Lab for PhD students specializing in science who were interested in working in science in a nonlab setting. The workshop brought in several speakers from various agencies, museums and a variety of other government jobs relating to science. On Saturday, Ira, one of the professors from CSPO, led an optional tour of the National Mall. Following the tour, a few of us stopped by the National Museum of Natural History. My favorite exhibit was of course the dinosaurs.
A few notes about the memorials I visited that day. It very well could be due to the fact my grandfathers fought in this war, but my favorite of the war memorials is the Korean War Memorial. While the seemingly never ending list of names on the Vietnam War Memorial is very powerful, a picture says a thousand words. The looks of sheer terror on the statutes of the soldiers’ faces and the haunting images staring at you through the wall is something that does not go away. It extremely well done and truly shows, in my opinion, the horror of a war that is still being fought to this day.
The World War II Memorial was interesting. The solemn emotion and quiet respect exhibited at the Korean and Vietnam War Memorials is not present at this one. The WWII Memorial is much more grand and majestic, I guess due to the fact we actually won that war. There was something else that felt odd about it and I did not realize what it was until Ira said that many people felt the architecture and symbols (wreaths and eagles) were not from 1940s US but more from 1930-40s Nazi Germany. Once told this I realized he was right and the odd feeling I had felt was due to the fact I had been reminded of the scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Indy retrieves his father’s notebook from the Nazis in Berlin. As you can imagine, there is a bit of controversy with this memorial and I suggest you do research on it further.
I wish I had more time to explore the Smithsonian museums. I did get a chance to go to several exhibits in the National Museum of Natural History, but I was unable to see any of the others. I loved the dinosaurs and enjoyed the Hall of Human Origins but next time I am there I want to explore the American History Museum, along with the National Zoo and some of the art galleries. I will talk more about the presidents’ monuments in my next post, so keep a look out for that one.