Whenever I reminisce about my family’s vacation to Washington D.C. during the summer of 2010, I think of heat. And humidity.
I remember how we first heard about the trip. My sister and I had just finished another successful Christmas, with presents and torn up wrapping paper engulfing us. We sat on our couch, thoroughly entertained with our sheek new gadgets, when my dad pulled out another present from behind the tree – this one wrapped in gold and silver paper. Lying inside this box were packets and forms, printed papers discussing car rentals and plane times. Puzzled, we sat there trying to sort through all this information when it hit us – we were going to Washington D.C. It would be the longest and farthest trip my sister and I had ever been on. We would be able to see a different side of the country, visit family, and bask in American history. June could not roll around fast enough.
But when the day finally came to leave, it was anything but smooth.
Our very first flight from Boise to Chicago was delayed due to storms, subsequently causing us to miss our extension from Chicago to D.C., meaning we had to take a later flight, and finally landed at Dulles International Airport at 11 pm, four hours later than expected.
After a quick hustle to our hotel and confusion regarding room keys, we were up and out again for our 8 o’clock tour of Washington D.C.
Our first day ran better than we could have imagined, and made up for the travel headaches gained the day before. We visited memorials, offices, local hotspots and tourist attractions. I was entranced by the cool exteriors of the Greek inspired buildings such as the Lincoln Memorial, White House, and Supreme Court building. The elaborate Smithsonian Institutions were initially intimidating, with their grand demeanor and culture filled halls. Men and women working for the federal government paraded around through the heavy heat and humidity in business suits – and never broke a sweat. Tourists snapped pictures of themselves as they floated around every park and statue. Traffic came to a complete standstill as police cars, ambulances, motorcycles, black SUVs and limousines escorted the President to his next event. At the end of the first day, I had taken over 200 photos on my digital camera.
But the most enriching experience from my week long Washington D.C. trip didn’t occur along the Civil War battlefields, during a tour of George Washington’s plantation, or even while reading the Declaration of Independence. It occurred on June 6, after a three hour flight, at 11pm. After stepping off an airplane from Chicago and landing in Washington D.C. When I looked over the lights of my country’s capital, and had a wave of patriotism flood over me. I think every citizen of this nation needs to make at least one trip to Washington D.C. to witness the pride and hope the city radiates. From its people to its monuments, Washington D.C. is the epitome of the land of the free and home of the brave.
I left Washington D.C. feeling, for the first time, like an American.
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