AKA, Mr. Commissar goes to Washington.
Yea, so I was gone for this past few days since I had taken a trip to Washington D.C.
Now Washington D.C. is an interesting place. It doesn't scream out "capital" like those of other nations, but I really was surprised with how Washington proper looked. Large buildings, well-maintained monuments, and a flawless transition between D.C. to surrounding Virginian and Maryland neighborhoods.
Washington D.C. is a special case in the government. It functions as its own entity, but it is not a state nor is it part of one. It doesn't have any representatives or senators (leading to their liscense plate logo "Taxation without Representation), but they do get electoral votes.
Washington has its own mayor, fire departments, police departments, etc., but a lot of functions of the federal government overlaps or overrules that of the city. On an interesting note, the cops here are very armored- almost everyone of them wore body armor, mainly those who patrolled around the monuments, Congress, and the White House.
You will notice that I did get pretty close to Congress and within view of the White House. Before 9/11, anyone was allowed to enter these buildings and take tours. Due to terrorism concerns, no entry is allowed unless you make arrangements through a member of the House or Senate.
So here are some pictures.
This is the National Archives. Contained within are preserved documents and photos relevant to the United States. There is also another entrance for people to directly access these monuments for research purposes.
The main attractions in here is the original copy of the Constitution (all four pages), the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights. There is also numerous other documents such as the document that secured the Louisiana Purchase, the Magna Carta, the Emancipation Proclamation, and many more that I can't list. I only took pictures of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights (in that order too)
These documents are very old and as such they are faded, especially in the case of the Declaration of Independence. John Hancock's infamous signature is somewhat visible.
This is the Congress of the United States. Congress houses both the Senate and the House of Representatives. In front of Congress facing towards the Washington Monument is a statue of General Grant (and later president) on horseback, who led the Union army to victory during the US Civil War.
You will notice on top there is a statue. It is a glorified version of George Washington. On the top it looks like there is an eagle of some sort.
This is the Library of Congress, which contains numerous books and original source documents. If you have clearance, you can directly access the library for research and to get access to certain books that are otherwise inaccessible to most people.
This is the Supreme Court. On each side there is a frieze depicting major figures who contributed to law systems.
Coincidentally, I was present in Washington D.C. when two major decisions were passed by the court. The first ruled that lethal injection given to those who raped a child violated the 8th amendment(the picture below is an NBC newsman covering it). The day immediately after the Supreme Court ruled that the Washington D.C. gun ban violated the Second Amendment.
Here is the most recognizable building in D.C.'s skyline, the towering Washington Monument.
Unfortunately there was some bad weather conditions so I could go to the top and take some pictures D:
The White House was directly north of the Washington Monument. As I mentioned before, public tours were allowed before 9/11. This is the best I can show.
And considering my status, I doubt I would've got my request cleared anyways. I like how the picture ended up though. No Bush though, so no "greetings" from me. I did see the Presidential Chopper flying over head one day though.
Facing away from Washington Monument is the reflecting pool and the Lincoln Memorial. Directly in front of the reflecting pool is a recent addition- the World War II Memorial.
I didn't get a good shot of it, but basically it surrounds what used to be a smaller pond in front of the reflecting pool. Surrounding the pond itself are numerous pillars which name each state of the Union as well as territories and protectorates (in this case, the Philippines), which contributed troops. On either end is a small tower, one for the Pacific Theatre, and another for the Atlantic/ European and North African Theatre. There are numerous quotes engraved around it.
This is a shot of the reflecting pool towards Lincoln Memorial. The original intent of this reflecting pool was to model it after ones such as the Taj Mahal's famous pool.
Inside the Lincoln Memorial is a statue of Lincoln himself, flanked by his Gettysburg Address and his second inaugural speech.
Facing back towards the Washington Memorial gives another good view of the city. There is also a small tile which marks where MLK gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.
On one end of the of the Lincoln Memorial is the Vietnam Memorial. On the black wall is listed every casualty of the war. On Memorial Day especially, you'll find a lot of flowers, letters, and commemorations left by families and friends of the fallen.
On the opposite side is the Korean War Monument. It has a similar black reflective wall, but also has a statue of American soldiers walking. On the wall is pictures of different soldiers involved. Behind where I took the picture is a pond with statistics pertaining to the war, with the quote "Freedom is not Free". On the other end bounding the memorial is the name of each country which contributed soldiers to the U.N. force.
Here is the Jefferson Memorial. Like Lincoln's Memorial, it has a statue of Jefferson as well as quotes and speeches attributed to him. It is located across from the Reflecting Pool bounded by the Tidal Basin.
Some miles away south from Washington tucked away in Virginia is Mount Vernon, George Washington's home. It borders along side the Potomac River and has excellent views. Originally, the house itself was a humble cottage that Washington inherited from his brother, but George Washington expanded it mainly to house the numerous guests who would come and visit him. The house is kept in the state as it was in Washington's last years. There are numerous colonial era artifacts, as well as a key to the Bastille sent to Washington from General Lafayette to commemorate the French Revolution, crediting Washington for spreading democratic ideals.
The grounds themselves had a large farm (as did most plantations had in those times), slave quarters, servant quarters, and so on.
From the back where people had originally ridden up on carriage.
And from the other side which faced the Potomac River.
Washington is also buried here with his wife and other members of his family (it is interesting to note that Washington never had any children of his own, only two children that Martha had brought with her from her previous marriage). He was originally buried in a small tomb, but had requested in his will that the tomb be expanded to better honor the dead, and this was done in 1830. Below is a shot of the tomb and the entrance, which has George Washington on the right (with the presidential seal), and his wife on the left.
And Arlington Cemetery. Within the grounds is the graveyard which houses soldiers who had either died or were veterans of the war. There are numerous Civil War graves, as well as World Wars I and II, Korea, and Vietnam. The cemetery was built around General Lee's house, primarly due to it being converted to a hospital during the war. It also served as a dual role to remind Lee what the war had cost. You can see his manor clearly in the second picture.
From atop Lee's house you get another good shot of Washington D.C.
The nearby grave marks that of Pierre Charles L’Enfant, a French engineer-soldier who had served with Lafayette's expeditionary force that aided the Americans in the revolution and would later form a successful Engineering Firm based in NYC. He would go on to design Washington D.C.'s city layout, though his designs were superseded by another planner's (I can't remember who), and he was never properly credited with D.C.'s design until the 1800s.
Behind Lee's house is an ancient tree, possibly from his time.
And the most famous thing within Arlington is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, complete with the guard.
The cemetery also had a memorial to JFK and his family, as well as his brother Robert.
Some other random things.
This was in front of one of the administration buidlings (I think it was the Federal Trade Commission). The guy reminded me of the hulk.
This is the Newsuem, built to cover journalism, TV, internet, etc etc. On the front is an engraving of the first amendment, the freedom of speech.
And of course, the Pentagon. You could go around the parking lot, but they were watching such cars carefully. To compensate, I took one from Arlington Cemetery.
There were a number of sites I wasn't able to visit, like the Spy Museum and the Iwo Jima Memorial. That's for another time, maybe.