We had a very nice holiday weekend that was family-centric and filled with little reminders of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country. As mentioned in the previous post, we went to Great Falls on Friday. And then Saturday morning, my brother, Scott, and his wife, Kelly, arrived to spend the weekend with us so we played tourists and checked out the memorials on the National Mall.
While crowded, the National Mall over Memorial Day weekend is an incredible sight and totally worth visiting. In addition to run-in-the-mill visitors and locals, there were bikers to be seen everywhere, the majority of them in town for the Rolling Thunder’s Ride to the Wall. And most sobering, there were a lot of children wearing red shirts who were in town for the TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) Good Grief Camp. Knowing that each and every one of those children lost a parent to war was a painful reminder of how war can be cruel and unfair.
Each memorial was lined with flowers and multiple American flags flew high in the sky. The grounds were busy but for the most part, everybody was courteous, respectful, and cognizant of their significance. I’m not quite sure why but this time around, I was more drawn to the people visiting the memorials than to the memorials themselves. While I’ve seen the memorials countless times, I never tire of them which is probably a testament to their power and design.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was the busiest and quietest of all the memorials. Nobody spoke above a whisper and the sound of graphite being rubbed on-top of names permeated throughout the park.
All along the wall were people standing on their toes, pointing to the names of people they knew as someone else in their group snapped a picture. Family and friends of the fallen quietly shed tears and impromptu memorial-like services occurred as stories of the KIA and MIA were shared among those who served with them and ultimately came home forever changed.
The National World War II Memorial honors the 16 million who served during World War II and the more than 400,000 who died. The memorial was designed to recognize the spirit, sacrifice, and commitment of the American people to the common defense of the nation. It really is a stunning memorial and has never looked as beautiful as it did over the weekend.
I observed this man pull a purple heart out of his back pocket, place it next to the Army Air Corps seal, and take a picture. I am curious as to whether it was in honor of his father, uncle, grandfather, or even possibly a female relative who could have been part of the Women Airfoce Service Pilot (WASP) program.
Scott and I took a picture in front of the Atlantic side of the World War II memorial in honor of our maternal grandfather who fought ‘over there’ and suffered life-long impairments due to his war experience. He passed away in 2011 and is buried at the Great Lakes National Cemetery.
Clay and Scott in front of the World War II Memorial with the Lincoln Memorial in the background.
One of my favorite moments of the day was coming across this man painting the often overlooked District of Columbia World War I memorial. As of right now, there is no national World War I memorial but the National World War I Memorial Foundation is currently working to establish one.
I thought this was an amusing picture of Scott and Kelly (and baby Emma). You can see multiple people posing for pictures in front of the famous landmark.
After walking around for a couple of hours, we grabbed a bite to eat from some food trucks and then headed back home. We spent the rest of the evening grilling steaks and sitting on the back deck talking. Because Scott and Kelly live in Georgia, we don’t see them very often so it was nice to catch up and just shoot the breeze.
On Sunday morning, we loaded up our cars and caravanned up to Megan and Mike’s in Pennsylvania. Scott, Kelly, and Stella (their dog) beat us by about 30 minutes because their child is still in utero. Our crew consists of a 4-year-old, a 10-month-old, and a 70 pound dog so we’re not quite as fast to get from Point A to Point B. As usual, Mikey and Weston were ecstatic to see each other again.
Violet enjoyed playing on their new (gated!) back deck.
Weston and Stella.
3/4 of the siblings. Unfortunately, our youngest sister, Julie, was unable to make it up for the weekend. Megan is due to have little McKayla next week so we were on the lookout for any signs of labor!
All the girls.
Kelly and Megan are both pregnant with little girls so Violet is anxiously awaiting their arrival!
We drove back home on Monday and spent the rest of the day just hanging out. Scott and Kelly left yesterday morning and we’ve settled back into our routine after a nice little four-day break. We’re planning on heading back up to Pennsylvania as soon as Miss McKayla arrives so for Megan’s sake, I hope we’re making the drive sooner rather than later. It was wonderful to see Scott and Kelly and we very much appreciate them making the trip to visit us. All in all, a fantastic Memorial Day weekend.