Day 6 - Walking, Standing in Crowds, and Very Drippy!

Today we decided to visit the Smithsonian.  This may seem like an easy task but in reality there are many different Smithsonian museums.  We only visited two of them.  Any one of them would take more than one day so the fact we saw two is amazing!  We also went to the Smithsonian Castle today.

The first one we visited was the National Museum of American History: Kenneth E. Behring Center. On our way there we saw the Washington Monument and Congress.  Both of these flank the National Mall which was a long expanse of grass in desperate need of water. Each wing of the museum has three exhibition floors.  We started in the west wing and worked our way up, then across and then down.  We wanted to see as much as we could in the short amount of time we had.  First we saw “America on the Move” which documented our history of transportation.

From there we saw a stirring exhibit of the flag which inspired Francis Scott Key to write the Star Spangled Banner.  The original flag which flew over Fort McHenry in Baltimore was there – all tattered and torn because some people cut out pieces to remember that day. The flag was 30 feet by 34 feet.

On the third floor we focused on the exhibit about our presidents. We made a quick trip through “Thanks for the memories” and saw Dorothy’s ruby slippers, the original Kermit the frog, and even the first Snoopy comic strip. It way too crowded to spend much time there, so we strolled through the exhibit called “The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden”. One wall housed a timeline of all 44 presidents. A complete section covered the presidents who died while in office.  Another section focused on how our presidents relaxed while in office and after they finished.  Finally there was a section devoted to Ronald Reagan to celebrate his 100th birthday.

 The other major display on the third floor was “The Price of Freedom: Americans at War”. This covered all the major wars our country has been involved in from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War to WWI and even most recently the war in Afghanistan. To see how the men and women of the US have sacrificed their lives for freedom was stirring.  To see original artifacts from these wars makes you proud of those who serve our country both here and around the world.

We decided we wanted to visit the Smithsonian Castle. The Smithsonian was created a British scientist named James Smithson left his fortune to the US to create an “establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men”. President Andrew Jackson received the bequest, or gift in 1835.  Eight years later, Congress passed an act to establish the Smithsonian Institute. The castle was a visitor’s center and we really only saw a small part of it.  The outside was quite impressive and we all wished we could have seen more of it but no other part was open to the public.

The National Air and Space Museum is a place everyone says we have to visit so we did.  While not on our list of places to see, with the weather still way too hot, we decided we would check it out.  The impressive statue in the front makes you think of something extraterrestrial but once you get inside you realize Americans were always striving to reach the heavens.  The building is filled with all types of machines we used to do this from balloons to airplanes to rockets. How cool it is to see that if a person has the imagination to believe it is possible and the ingenuity to create it, anything is possible. 

The museum was formed in 1946 and some of the artifacts date back to the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia from 1876.  Because of the many different artifacts arriving that could not be held in the old building a new one had to be built. The new building – The Steven Udvar-Hazy Center opened in 2003.  We got to see the Wright Brothers Kitty Hawk, the Spirit of St. Louis that Lindberg flew over the Atlantic Ocean, and we got to see dozens of airplanes as well as lunar modules that touched down on the moon.

Throughout the day Righty, American, and Lefty were kept busy seeing the sights.  As you can see from a few of the pictures, they had a tiring day.

Mrs. Hoffman, Mrs. Cochrane, and Mrs. Gibson – see you tomorrow!

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