Washington DC Wednesday, July 17, 2007

A few days ago we went on a van tour of Washington, DC.  The tour guide picked us up right at our RV site.  Nice!!!!!  When we boarded, there was already one couple in the van.  Then we drove around the RV Park and stopped at another site and picked up 6 more people in a popup.  Mom and Dad and 4 children. They were 13, 8, 6 and 5.  We both thought, OH NO!!!!  But those children were wonderfully behaved all day long.  As we got out at the end of the day we gave each of them some money as a treat to spend on their vacation.

VA and DC are totally dripping in history.  It seems like every exit has a sign showing a battlefield or a museum.  Most highways and main streets are named for someone in history.  I wonder how many museums there are in the area?Back to our tour.  The first place Lena, our guide, dropped us off was at the Arlington Cemetery.  Just a bunch of burial sites?  NO!!  Robert E Lee’s Mansion sits on top of the hill looking over the land.  


A view of Washington DC from the mansion.

 a-lee-mansion-view.jpg Just down the hill from the front of the mansion was the eternal light and

John Kennedy’s burial site (and his family). 

 a-JFK and Flame

 Nearby was Robert Kennedy’s site with just a simple white cross as a headstone. 


 There are all kinds of statues on the land. 

There is an interesting story about the mansion, which is called the Arlington House.  The mansion, which was intended as a living memorial to George Washington, was owned and constructed by the first president’s adopted grandson, George Washington Parke Custis, son of John Parke Custis, who was a child of Martha Washington by her first marriage and a stepson of George Washington.  Custis built the house on top of the mountain overlooking Washington DC.  The mansion is a faux limestone in front.  He wanted to make an impression on the people looking up at the mansion.  The back end on the house was not done that way because he said no one could see it.  George Washington Parke Custis and his wife, Mary Lee Fitzhugh (whom he had married in 1804), lived in Arlington House for the rest of their lives and were buried together on the property in 1857 and 1853, respectively. On June 30, 1831, Custis’ only child, Mary Anna Randolph Custis, married her childhood friend and distant cousin, Robert E. Lee.Lee was the son of former three-term Virginia Governor Henry (“Light Horse Harry”) Lee and, like his father, was a graduate of West Point.  The couple lived in the house and were keepers, not owners of the land and house.  When Robert E Lee went to fight for the Confederate Army, he and his wife moved away from the mansion during the Civil War.  For a joke(?) the Union Army started burying the Union Soldiers and slaves on the 1,100 acres that Lee had lived on and made his home.  Lee never returned to the Arlington House.For the story click on the blue.  


 We saw the changing of the guards of the Tomb of the Unknown Solder.  That was a very precise military exercise and intense to watch. 




There are 30 to 40 funerals there every day.  There was a funeral going on and we saw the laying of a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. 


Then right after that we saw a funeral procession with a military band, then 6 horses (with 3 horses with the missing riders) pulling the casket just like during JFK’s funeral procession. 


 Not everyone gets to see all 3 when they visit Arlington Cemetery.  We were very lucky.

Tomorrow we will post the rest of the tour.

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