a week in Washington, day two

Wednesday, July 19, was my tourist day. I grabbed my camera, my sketchbook, and my “fat lil notebook,” and I was on my way. After a ride on the green line of the famous five-color Metro system, I headed to the National Archives. Each line gets a different color: red, yellow, blue, green, and orange. The lines go to different places in Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Maryland. It reminds me of a color wheel. The only one that is missing is purple but, maybe, one of these days, a purple line will be opened.
But, I digress (one of my best skills). After I got off of the metro, I went straight for the National Archives. There I saw an exhibit titled “Eyewitness: American Originals from the National Archives.” I obtained a small audio device and went into the exhibit. The device is easy to operate, so I had an audio tour of the exhibit. On display was a sampling of letters, statements, diary entries, and notes from people recording historical events. Some of the people were very well known, while others were not. Most of the documents were written but there were also a few recorded documents.
Among the many documents on display were:

  • a letter from Thomas Jefferson, written in July of 1789, describing the storming of the Bastille and the violence and chaos that followed,
  • a letter from a fugitive slave, John Boston, dated January 12, 1862, to his wife Elizabeth. In the letter, Mr. Boston told his wife that he had found refuge with a New York regiment.
  • John C. Fremont‘s report on his 1842 expedition to the Rockies, as written by his wife, Jessie Benton Fremont, on March 1, 1843.
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder’s diary entries (dated 1894) on her move with her husband Alonzo and eight-year-old daughter Rose from South Dakota to Missouri.
  • Lt. Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower‘s November 13, 1919, summary report on a transcontinental motor convoy.
  • Red Cross worker Marie Adams‘ June 7, 1945, document describing starvation conditions during the final days of a Japanese internment camp in the Philippines. She said that, when she was in the camp, from May 1942 to February 1945, she worked in the hospital.
  • Pfc Harold Porter‘s May 7, 1945, letter to his parents describing the horrifying scenese at the Dachau concentration camp when it was liberated. The letter was written on Waffen SS stationery.
  • John Lewis‘ testimony in Federal court about the March 7, 1965, march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, where he suffered a skull fracture after being hit by a billy club. He is now a member of Congress from Georgia.
  • Memo of a telephone conversation between President George H. W. Bush and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl on the reunification of Germany, on October 3, 1990.

And much more.
In the National Archives, I also saw the original Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, and Bill of Rights. They were all faded but what was left was preserved in dim light under glass.

After leaving the National Archives, I walked through the Butterfly Habitat Gardens. On a plaque was this statement: When butterflies grace the garden, they send the spirit soaring. Four different types of habitats are featured at this garden: wetland, wood’s edge, back yard, and meadow.
My next stop was to the Arts and Industries Building. It was still closed. So I sat outside and did some sketching.
After that, I returned to the Catholic Worker house.
In the evening, I went with a friend, Mary, to the Palestine Center to see two movies. They are part of a film series being presented at the Palestine Center.
The first movie that we saw was a short satire, called “Chic Point.” It was presented as a fashion show, with a runway. The models were all men. They demonstrated fashion statements that were appropriate to get them across an Israeli check point. When they cross the check point, they have to show their abdomens to prove that they aren’t wearing bomb belts. The models used various devices to more readily show off their abdomens. It was a very entertaining show of tummies, fashion, and creativity.
The second movie that we saw was a documentary called “Improvisation.” The movie is about three brothers in the Joubran family. They are musicians and they play the ‘oud, an Arab traditional instrument that bears some likeness to the mandolin. The three brothers are seen with their extended family in a variety of settings. They are also seen practicing for concerts. The three brothers are very different in many ways. One is married and has a bright, outspoken little daughter. One brother is a violin maker. Their passions run in different directions. One is passionate about politics, while another one is passionate about his girlfriend.
The filmmakers follow the brothers from Nazareth to Ramallah to Paris. It was moving an fascinating, offering a glimpse into the lives of the musicians and of a completely different culture, including a snapshot into the life of people in Ramallah, a besieged city. The documentary was directed by Raed Andoni, and it was released in 2005.
And that ended day number two of the Big Adventure.

1 thought on “a week in Washington, day two”

  1. Thanks Alice, for that great description of your day in Washington. I felt like I was there with you and I could certainly feel your excitement.

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