This weekend I took a trip to Washington D.C. for a change of scenery. I have family living over there so I've visited a number of times when I was younger. It's funny though because even though I've been there before, even though I know what to expect, and even though I've seen the monuments, the museums, and the political offices there before...this time was different somehow. I looked at the city with new eyes. Suddenly it was so much more interesting and relevant. Sure, I've seen Capitol Hill, the White House, Lincoln Memorial, and the Washington Monument before but being so young, these places were devoid of any meaning.
But I'm older now and (thankfully) more knowledgeable too. And if I must admit it...the Poli Sci nerd in me rejoiced this weekend! I revelled in seeing all the offices and landmarks that I read and learn about every day come to life. Having an understanding of what these buildings and places stand for put everything about the city in a whole different perspective and I was able to appreciate it in a way I never was able to before.
We visit Honest Abe every time we're in the city but this time around, I know more about the history and just how important his accomplishments are. I read the writings on the wall of his Second Inaugural Address with so much awe..."With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations." Such poetry, such eloquence, such gravitas! And to think that there too was where MLK once stood to deliver that famous 'I Have A Dream' speech...a truly defining moment in the Civil Rights Movement. The history, the grand significance of it all! That's something that a younger me was so unable to comprehend.
This time I also walked the halls of the Willard Hotel, where many of the American presidents have stayed and where the likes of Emily Dickenson, Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, Charles Dickens have slept...the place where MLK wrote the aforementioned speech...where the plans for the League of Nations first began to take shape...where the term "lobbyist" originated (apparently Pres. Grant often stayed there and people hung out in the hotel lobby waiting to speak to him, hence the term). Yeah, I'm geeky, I know. But these things matter to me and I am simply encapsulated by the history of any and every place, especially when it is as significant as this.
So this weekend was a pleasant surprise. It turned out to be so much more than I had expected! To be at the hub of American history and government, to see the place where issues of health, world economies, social reform, and various others are debated and legislated (whether effectively or not is a different discussion) was thrilling for me.
I always feel so lucky when I get to visit a new country or city and learn about their culture, lifestyle, and history. And this time, although not entirely new to me, was no exception. It's so refreshing to be able to see the same place I've already been to with a new pair of eyes...