Friday, December 31, 2010

Washington DC

I was on a business trip in the vicinity of Washington DC in early December, so I took advantage of the circumstance and make a couple quick visits into the capitol to see some of the sights. I only had a few hours one night (which was freezing quite literally!), and another couple of hours in the day before my flight back, but I tried to make the most of it.

After wandering past the White House and freezing my butt off at the base of the Washington Monument, I made my way over to the Lincoln Monument. This was my favorite of the monuments, and it was quite awe inspiring lit up at night. I had initially planned to join a "night tour" of the monuments, but while lingering here, dwelling on the words written on the wall, and soaking up every bit of inspiration I could, I saw the crowds of tours come and go. Most of them stayed long enough to snap off a series of shots with flashes blazing at the Lincoln statue, glance around the interior, then disappear. It was in those quiet moments in between waves that I really got to feel the full impact of this amazing structure and statue. A great tribute to a great man.

Shaking off the bitter cold and biting wind I continued my lone tour in the night. My next stop was the Korean memorial. I only think that experiencing it as I did that night was how it was truly meant to be seen. Walking alone, the dimly lit figures began to appear before me and I was met by a soldier was seemed startled, like he had just heard a sound coming from my direction. I continued on, and was furthered moved by the expressions on each of their faces. So different, so full of emotion, so life like. It felt almost disrespectful to set up my camera and take these photographs, but I did it with a solemn heart, reflecting on the realities that these statues portrayed.

With my fingers in pain from tightening down the tripod and shooting a set of photographs, I continued on in the 20-some degree night (not counting the wind chill) and headed across the way to the Vietnam Memorial. Walking down the wall alone at night I was crushed by the weight of all those names. Piling higher and higher as you descend the path, the reality of the sacrifice hits you hard and leaves an empty feeling inside. Once again, I almost left my camera in the bag. There is really no image that can purvey the feeling I had here on this bitter cold night. I stood in silence for awhile, touched some of the names, then I took these photographs.

With a cold body and a colder heart I headed to the metro station went back to my hotel, unable to take the cold any longer, but satisfied that I had gotten to experience a place visited by so many people in such a quiet and intimate way.

The last day of my trip I set off back into DC before my flight. It was still cold, but not nearly as bitterly as the night of my last visit. With limited time I rushed to the National Archives and spent an hour or so marveling at the founding documents of this country. The words written upon those documents are quite remarkable. I then rushed over to the Smithsonian Air and Space museum and only slowed for a few photos and a quick stop to get souvenirs for the kids. I never got close to the capitol building, but I snapped a quick shot with at 200mm and headed off to walk the loop around the Jefferson Monument, through the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial Park, and along the backside of the Lincoln Monument as I hurried off to catch my plane. Was neat to see these sights, but I wished I could have taken my time a bit more to reflect on the words and further appreciate the grandeur of it all.

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