You might’ve heard Washington, D.C., was a bit of a circus this past week. A former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation gave blockbuster testimony to Congress about the commander-in-chief that seems like it could be historic no matter what happens next. People across the country met the situation’s gravity by crowding into bars and holding watching parties at home and work.
The mix of solemnity and cheerfulness suits D.C., I think. Every tourist destination there has a line as long as a theme park ride’s – some places require reservations months in advance – and school field trips and flocks of Segway riders crisscross the National Mall. Meanwhile, some of the people and events that define the country are preserved and memorialized in glass cases and an incredible amount of marble.
The Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History and National Gallery of Art house pieces of the world’s most incredible beauty, while the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum houses some of its horror, such as in the quiet devastation of a room filled with victims’ shoes in every size. National museums of the American Indian and African American history and culture display beauty and horror alike. Across the Potomac from the original oversized pages of the U.S. Constitution lie hundreds of thousands of service members at Arlington National Cemetery.
It’s nothing if not a town of juxtaposition, and there is plenty to see.
This is one of those lines I mentioned, one that stood in the early morning to get a ticket up to the top of the Washington Monument. The break in its color comes from a 20-year pause in construction during the Civil War and other national problems. I guess that’s a good enough excuse.
I’ve had the chance to go the capital twice, first in high school in 2008 with my dad and cousin, again in college in 2010 with the rest of an honors class. I’d have a more complete set with better shots for you all if I returned to D.C. now, I hope. But it seemed a good time to see snippets of a place that determines so much of what we remember and of what we do in health care, climate policy and more.
Thanks for looking, and keep watching.