Birthday girl getting her philosophical thinking on at the National Gallery of Art.
Posts Tagged ‘history’
Brian suggested we take Sasha to Bull Run. We hadn't been there since last summer, and it was good to go back. The four of us walked around the different battlefield sites, re-learning our Civil War history. It seemed appropriate since the Civil War started 156 years prior… almost to the day (April 12, 1861 vs. April 14, 2017). These particular battles at Manassas were fought in the unforgiving heat of July. And actually, the planned skirmishes were so widely known and anticipated that locals even brought their picnic baskets out for some entertainment. Seems an odd choice of entertainment, watching people fight and kill each other. But I digress. :)
This week marked the centennial of one of the most consequential events of the 20th century: the United States of America, under President Woodrow Wilson and with the vote of the U.S. Congress, solemnly entered the Great War.
The biggest news these days is: flowers! Awhile back we had a several consecutive days of 70-80 degree weather, which basically moved our spring up by a month. The cherry trees in DC bloomed unexpectedly early as a result, which caught many would-be tourists off guard. Instead of being overrun with selfie-stick-holding Japanese citizens, the Tidal Basin was surprisingly quiet for about a week. (Because who books travel for early March?) This was heard secondhand, because I didn't get the chance to make it downtown in the short window before the scramble and mad rush.
Justice Antonin Scalia was one of our country's last true constitutionalists. He left in his wake a legacy of justice, godliness, and greatness, and his passing creates a tremendous gap in the conservative movement, the nation itself and, most notably, the Supreme Court.
We spent Saturday with Grandma Bonnie and her good friends, Phang and Bora. This couple has a fascinating story. You might not realize that Phang, the kind gardener, used to be a highly-respected doctor, or that Bora, the hospitable chef, is part of a royal lineage. Phang and Bora shed those identities to survive brutal civil war and prison camps.
Originally from Cambodia, Phang and Bora managed to escape to America during communist control in the 70s. They were newly married at the time of their escape, running through rice paddies littered with mines. Bora's grandmother, fleeing with them, was shot and killed by the invading North Vietnamese army, and they had to leave her behind. After months of hiding in European refugee camps, the destitute newlyweds landed in Falls Church, Virginia. It was at this time that Bonnie's church implored its congregation to provide work to the flood of Cambodian refugees. Bonnie and her husband looked at their large, young family and employed Phang and Bora to help with the children, housework, and gardening. Thus began a decades-long friendship.
The best part of Annapolis is the waterfront around the harbor and the city dock. Since the 17th century, the dock has been the heart of activities in Annapolis. The waterfront has helped cultivate the beautiful historical and cultural center it is today. Even from its earliest days as a colonial city, Annapolis was known as "Athens of America" because of the overflow of cultural activities, intellectual stimulation, social gatherings, and gracious hospitality. The small seaport brought many visitors from abroad who shared new news and new ideas, and a thriving shipping industry brought great wealth to the city. Even now, Annapolis easily draws four million visitors a year.
Saturday morning started in the perfect sort of way: waking up to the smell of coffee rather than the sound of the alarm. Sarah and Bill stayed with us, so over breakfast we tossed around some ideas for how to spend the day. The consensus was to head to Annapolis and take the free walking tour of the historic district and the Naval Academy. The last time I had been to Annapolis was when I was Sarah’s age. For me, the town was inextricably linked to shopping sprees and the (back then) newly opened Annapolis Hard Rock Café. But those memories were from fifteen years ago, and I wanted to see all the new attractions. Sarah was excited about the shops and the Naval Academy, so that was that.
Today I went to see the perfect replica of a French 18th century warship temporarily docked at the Alexandria Marina. La frégate L’Hermione is historically famous because it carried Major General Lafayette from France to America, reuniting the French general with George Washington, and ultimately leading to the successful end of America’s Revolutionary War.
The Marquis de Lafayette is certainly an extraordinary figure of modern history: throughout his life, he held firmly to the belief that, with God, nothing is ever impossible. As a young man Lafayette played a critical role in securing America’s independence from Britain. John Adams declared, “He devoted himself, his life, his fortune, his hereditary honors, his towering ambition, his splendid hopes, all to the cause of liberty.”
This is what is left of the old Aqueduct Bridge in Georgetown. It used to stretch across the large Potomac River and float barges between the C&O Canal in D.C. and the Alexandria Canal in Virginia. So we’re clear, the Alexandria Canal Company created a water-filled bridge to float cargo barges over a river. This project, which started in 1833, took a slight ten years to complete. Human ingenuity is always strong where profits can be made.
On each side of the canal ran a narrow carriageway. Later, a pedestrian level was added for further commerce opportunities on “the other side” of the Potomac. Unfortunately, crossing tolls (necessary for paying for the expansion – back when Washingtonians were more scrupulous with their/our money) were prohibitively expensive and the commerce suffered to the point of almost shutting down the bridge.