Editor’s Note: Rangerette and Flare staff writer Dezirae Burnett, Huntington freshman, is in Washington D.C. to perform Jan. 19 in The Black Tie & Boots Presidential Inaugural Ball. The Rangerettes arrived Jan. 16, and are able to tour the capital. THE FLARE will share Burnett’s personal reflections on the trip. Keep up with us on Facebook or Twitter for updates on new entries.
Tours make history come alive
The air isn’t so cold on my second day here in D.C. We are riding the Metro to Mount Vernon, the last stop on the route. We have switched trains twice. It is funny how I can be amused by such little things as emerging from the train tunnel and seeing the Potomac flowing beneath me, or all the tall, skinny houses all smushed together on a street like a larger-than-life accordion.
Virginia is a new world. Bus stops are much less clean than D.C. It seems that everywhere I look is uphill. I love how it looks like winter here; fallen leaves litter the lawns of every home.
It’s no surprise why President Washington was so fond of his Mount Vernon plantation. The landscape is absolutely beautiful. The Potomac is as smooth as a pane of glass as seen from the back porch of the main house. The house is a treasure in and of itself. The tour is like stepping back in time, with all the rooms furnished with authentic period pieces.
On the second floor of the house, my small tour group looks into the private bedchamber of George and Martha Washington. The room still serves as home to Martha’s original writing desk, as the room served as her office, as well as the bed that she had made for herself and the President – the bed where he later died. It was eerie to be in such close proximity to where he took his last breath.
The knobby, red brick pathway leading away from the main estate was deserted and peaceful; I find it difficult to fathom life at Mount Vernon being anything but peaceful.
The Washington family tomb is located in a lower portion of the plantation. The iron-gated tomb enclosure houses the remains of Martha and George, as well as most of the Washington family. The tomb and memorial grounds are very simple.
My experience at Mount Vernon concludes with a stroll through the various gardens and rolling, pale green pastures. Before finally making my way back to the bus stop, I pause and stare out over the vast plantation, committing yet another piece of our rich history to memory.
This evening we took a night tour of the National Mall and Memorial Parks. We stopped at each memorial. The air had a frigid bite to it as we made our four-hour trek through history.
The magnitude of just how many brave souls have lost their lives to protect the very way of life I too often take for granted is still unbelievable even with seeing each of the thousands upon thousands of individual names etched forever into the granite wall before me.
I stood captivated at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial, in awe of its majesty. Inside the memorial itself, I couldn’t help but wonder what the permanently placed look on the 16th President’s face was. Was it pride? Concern? Concentration? Perhaps it was a mix of all three.
The FDR Memorial was by far the most magnificent, with its waterfalls and reflection pools. Laid out not in a circle or straight line, Roosevelt’s memorial is arranged into outdoor rooms, each representative of the terms he served as the leader of the free world. Each room features quotes by the President, and different statues of himself and his life.
I was intrigued by the many contributions and by the significance of each man or group memorialized in the mall. It was humbling to stand before representations of such seemingly ordinary people whose extraordinary acts built this grand country.