Monday, January 16, 2012

The National Museum of American History


Post-holiday winter doldrums?  Us too.  Sheila and I needed an excellent adventure.  Luckily, January is a great time to take in a museum, especially in Washington, DC.  Yes, it's cold, cold, cold!  But it beats melting in the heat of the National Mall during the summer and you can't beat the crowds, because there aren't any.  So the road trip was on.  This weekend we drove down and took in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

I'll be the first to admit that there is so much there that it is hard to see everything in one day.  On this trip we spent a lot of time in the exhibits "America on the Move" and "The Price of Freedom: Americans at War."  There are some really interesting artifacts there (understatement, duh).  For some reason I found General Phillip Sheridan's stuffed horse "Winchester" to be fascinating.  I guess it's one of those situations where you feel a direct link to the past.  I'm looking at a horse, albeit a stuffed one, that was ridden during the Civil War.  Don't ask why I didn't get excited over George Custer's buckskin jacket or George Washington's saber.  We each find our own connection to history, right?  Turns out, the Smithsonian is a good place to go look for it.

I must add that since I've written a book about the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion and I am currently working on researching the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment, I found the WWII display particularly appealing.

I'm not a travel writer, but here's a tip for you.  Rather than eat at the museum cafeteria, or pay high prices for bad food at one of the "restaurants" in the neighborhoods that surround the mall, go inside the Ronald Reagan building (14th Street between Constitution and Pennsylvania Avenues).  There is a food court in the lower level much like a nice shopping mall.  A Subway sandwich and the best mocha latte since we moved from Seattle really hit the spot.

But here's a warning for you as well, sometimes going to one place will just require that you go to another.  Now that we have seen the original "Star Spangled Banner," we are compelled to go visit Fort McHenry in Baltimore.  Well, maybe when it warms up. ;-)
Photography is not allowed in this exhibit.  Photos of the Star Spangled Banner
are provided courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution.

No comments: