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Posts Tagged ‘Virginia’

Kirkland Memorial, Fredericksville

(The last post from the last trip -onto 2011!)

After visiting the Fredericksburg Visitor Center, watching the film, walking along the stone wall, the sunken road and visiting the cemetery on the hill, where unknown soldiers are buried in graves, with numbers indicating how many are resting in the same grave together, the # 5 is not uncommon, I’m emotionally exhausted.

And what a silly thing to say, as if being a tourist is too much. 100,ooo soldiers died in the battlefields in this area.  The waste of life is hard to contemplate.  I’m mad at Burnsides for sending wave after wave of Union soldiers into certain death here.  I thank God for Sgt. Richard Kirkland, the “Angel of the Battlefield”, a 19 year old Confederate who jumped over the stone wall and gave water to  dying and thirsty Union enemies.  And take some comfort in Theodore O’Hara’s “Bivouac of the Dead”, stanzas of which are posted at different parts of the cemetery.

Rest on embalmed and sainted dead!
Dear as the blood ye gave;
No impious footstep shall here tread
The herbage of your grave;
Nor shall your glory be forgot
While fame her records keeps,
Or Honor points the hallowed spot
Where Valor proudly sleeps.

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National Museum of the Marine Corps - Quantico

The exhibits are powerful – but nothing is more powerful than the presence of the young Marines who are touring the museum with us.  Minutes after we get our bearings in the huge main lobby, the first group marches in. They listen to instructions from their commanding officer (in perfect lines, on one bent knee in the front row) and respond with a resounding “YES,  SIR!!!”  after each one.    Some are dispatched to exhibits, some to the mess hall restaurant upstairs.  They look so young and earnest, with their hair cut so short and their shoulders squared, heads held high. There are women too, but their hair appears to have been spared.

It’s very humbling to visit this museum in their company.  After the recruitment and bootcamp exhibitions and films, we go chronologically through wars Marines have fought in – we experience sights and sounds of  WWI, Korea, Viet Nam.  Seeing the actual flag that was hoisted by the Marines on Iwo Jima is breathtaking. Who can forget that iconic photo.

As frivolous as a delicious lunch sounds in these circumstances – we had one here.  On second floor they have a recreation of the 18th century Tun Tavern, in Philadelphia, where according to legend the first colonial Marines were recruited in 1775.  There’s an interesting mural on one of the walls, and at one point during our meal the tavern-keeper gave a great talk about who was portrayed in it and why.

At the end of the day, we walk back to our Navion motorhome as some of the recruits are boarding their buses. It’s hard to imagine what their futures hold.  All we can do is thank them and say a prayer for their safety.

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Mount Vernon
Hats off to George and Martha!  We were thoroughly entertained here – so much to do and see.  We arrived after noon – had to scramble to get it all in. The mansion, the wharf and pioneer village, gardens, tomb, and the museums, films, some one-on-one time with Martha (she was awesome).
And as if all that history wasn’t enough – we went for the Hollywood version –  the National Treasure Guided Tour .  Okay, so we hadn’t actually seen the movie -but it got us into the basement of Mount Vernon, off the regular tourist path, and gave us lots to watch for when we rent National Treasure 2. The tour was great – half Hollywood, half history. Pictures are restricted, so we won’t be giving anything away.
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View from Mount Vernon

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We want to learn a little about spies and codes and how the NSA evolved, so we pull off the Washington Beltway and visit the small, but interesting and rather hard to find Cryptology Museum, which winds up being right next to the huge NSA complex. But DON’T take that exit and DON’T point your cameras in that direction (we didn’t) – these people are serious.  So is the museum history – fascinating, if not the best organized (although we had a wonderful docent, who was there to guide and answer all our questions) -from the earliest forms of intelligence, through solving the Enigma (German code machine in WWII) and beyond.

We make it around the rest of the Washington beltway, listening to political talk radio, of course, and check into Bull Run Regional Park.  The next day we tour  Manassas Battlefield.  The first major battle of the Civil War , where they say innocence was lost.  The young soldiers who thought they were going off to have a fun and daring (and short) adventure,  saw instead the grim and ugly face of war.  Washington picnickers were caught up in the Union retreat and Stonewall Jackson got his name here.

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