Today marked day four of the Junior Fellows Inaugural trip. Last night we were treated with extra sleep: five whole hours! Our first stop of the morning took place promptly nearby in Staunton, Virginia at Woodrow Wilson’s home. Featuring red brick and white trim, the house boasted a notable size while still maintaining a relatively simple and modest look.
The back of the home featured a path down to an extensive row of bushes, trimmed and organized into a maze of sorts. The most important aspect however was the surrounding area.
The home is situated along a narrow street among numerous other cozy looking Georgian style homes. The close knit nature of the neighborhood, combined with the rural atmosphere left me wanting to move in right then and there. Woodrow had it well off in a simple environment.
As great as it was to start our day off exploring the home of President Woodrow Wilson, the JF’s were probably most excited to reach the destination that spurred this whole trip: Washington, DC.
The Mall area in Washington is very picturesque, a fact that brings large crowds, paradoxically making it difficult to get good pictures. Nonetheless, we were able to see many of the monuments remarkably unimpeded by security. Two places in and around the mall area come to mind as being popular with the visitors: the Martin Luther King Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. monument depicts the civil rights leader with his arms crossed, staring across the Tidal Basin toward the Jefferson Memorial. The MLK monument is one of the newest to the Mall area, and it is a fitting monument for the occasion: the second inauguration of the first black President.
Though the MLK Monument was popular, the Lincoln Memorial was more so, and for good reason.
Not only is Lincoln one of our greatest president, but his monument also offers one of the most recognizable images in the United States and maybe even the world.
Looking east, the eye moves past the reflecting pool and is arrested by the impressive verticality of the Washington Monument, before gliding on toward the imposing Capitol structure. You can’t beat that view.
We all wanted a picture at the Lincoln Monument.
The Korean War Memorial wasn’t an overly favorite monument among the group, but had a unique and eerie feel to it. The first noticeable part to the memorial is also its most distinctive part; scattered across a small field stands various soldier statues, each carrying their weapon, each having a different gaze.
Small plants and brush line the ground, giving you the feeling you are standing amongst a patrol in Korea. Once you look to the left you find a lengthy charcoal grey wall. This is no ordinary wall. At a closer glance you will find the faces of various soldiers etched into the granite. These ghost-like figures immediately gave me a sense of deserved solemnity.
Both the wall and statues bring something different and new to the table when compared to the surrounding monuments, deserving respect not only to the fallen soldiers, but the artistic mind behind it.
Our next stop at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial was intriguing not only its design but with such beautiful weather it was captivating to see the afternoon sunlight rushing behind Jefferson’s statue which stands tall in the center. The engraving on both ends of the rotunda seemed to stand out a bit more, which made for a breath taking scene.
Jefferson looks across the Potomac toward the Washington Monument and beyond, to the White House. It was one of our favorite monuments.
While the sun set over Washington, we had dinner with Junior Fellow alum Justin Veillon, who currently works for Congressman Kevin Brady. While we caught up with Justin he was able to give us a vicarious glimpse into the life of a staff aide, covering the work he did, and offering his thoughts on living in Washington. He gave us a better sense of how to move around D.C. For example, The Capitol is the center of the city and from that D.C. is divided in quadrants. As you travel through Washington it behooves you to have an idea what quadrant you are in and what direction you are driving because you could end up getting very lost. Justin also shared how the direction in which streets run can be quite a problem if you’re new in town. Some street lanes turn into contraflow lanes during certain times of the day in order to help rush hour, however, if you’re not familiar with this, you could be heading straight into another car. As a recommendation, we were told it is better and more efficient not to own a car and use the many transportation systems available throughout the city.
The Junior Fellows would like to thank Congressman Kevin Brady, Justin Veillon, and Brady’s office for providing us with tickets to the Presidential Inauguration.