Posts Tagged ‘Washington’

My parents and my son at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Today is Veteran’s Day and I would like to honor all those who have served for we would not be the great nation we are without them.  

My son has learned quite a bit about the American Revolution and the Civil War in school and through our travels.  He still has a lot to learn about both World War I and World War II which is part of the curriculum for the second half of this school year.   A lot of what he knows about World War II came from our visit to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans and the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. and from stories my parents have told him about his great grandfathers who served our country.

My Dad has also shared his thoughts and memories of the Vietnam War while we were in Washington, D.C. at the Vietnam Wall Memorial this past March. He had mentioned that back in the sixties there was little respect or honor for veterans, which is surprising since President Eisenhower made Veteran’s Day an official holiday in 1954.

Teaching our children about those who gave their lives in service for our country is important.  As my Dad is the link to learning about my grandfather’s role in World War II and about his own experience to Vietnam, I am the link for my son to learn about veteran’s role in the Gulf War and of course the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I want my son to be able to relay stories of courage and patriotism to his children one day so they won’t take living in our country for granted.  He won’t be able to do that if he doesn’t learn by example.  It is our job as parents to make sure our children understand that we owe our security and freedom to our veterans past and present, so when you are traveling make sure you carve out sometime to visit one of our country’s National Cemeteries or memorials.  Chances are when you are there you might run into a veteran, so make sure to say thank you.

Pointing to my Grandfather’s name at the World War II Museum in New Orleans.

My parents at the Vietnam Wall

Have you taught your children the true meaning of Veteran’s Day?

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The family at the Air and Space Museum in March 2012.

Washington, D.C.  is one of my favorite places to visit and I love the Smithsonian.  Seriously, with so many museums and exhibits to choose from there always is a reason to visit! Another great perk is that the Smithsonian museums are FREE! Okay, well I know the FREE part has your attention, but maybe you are concerned that your kids and museums might not mix and you don’t want to hear the dreaded “this is boring” whine; NO WORRIES, museums today are filled with interactive exhibits, live demonstrations, and fun family events. To see for yourself, check out my three exhibit picks for the National Air and Space Museum when you plan on visiting Washington, D.C.

The Wright Brothers & Invention of the Aerial Age– Seeing the original 1903 Wright Flyer is pretty cool in itself.  There is also 150 artifacts and 250 photographs to view, but the kids will gravitate to the hands-on stations and the computer stations which will help them understand how the Wright brothers took flight 109 years ago.

The original 1903 Wright Flyer.

How Things Fly– Hands-on activities guide visitors through the interactive gallery which explains the principles of air and space flight.  This exhibit is divided into seven sections and has more than 50 interactive activities for kids.  Highlights are the model of the International Space Station and a section of the Boeing 757 fuselage. In addition there is an area where “Explainers” perform demonstrations kids can enter a paper airplane contest!

How Things Fly – Control and Stability Interactive

America by Air– This exhibit focuses on the early years, airline expansion and innovation, propeller airlines and the jet age.  Kids will have a great time checking out the cockpit of the Boeing 747 jumbo jet.

The boys with my Dad.

Outside of the exhibits, kids also will love the flight simulators, the space show at the planetarium and the IMAX shows.  As I mentioned earlier the museum is FREE, but these add-ons come with an admission price.

The other part of the Air and Space Museum is at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.  Here you will find two gigantic hangers.  One is for aviation artifacts and one is for space artifacts – where the Space Shuttle Discovery now calls home.  This place is a dream for air and space fans!  Parents will have just as much fun as their kids marveling at the Enola Gay (the WWII plane that dropped the first atomic bomb) and checking out rocket boosters and spacewalk capsules.  To cap off the day, make sure you visit the control tower and watch planes land and takeoff at Dulles Airport.

Space Shuttle Discovery passes the Washington Monument on April 17, 2012 on its way to its new home at the Air & Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. (Photo posted on Facebook by The American History Museum)

Have you been to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum?  What was your favorite thing your family enjoyed?  Let me know!  

Also, please comment and share your experience if you check out the Space Shuttle Discovery!

National Air and Space Museum. National Mall at Independence Avenue at 6th Street, SW. Tel. 202-633-1000. Open every day except Dec. 25. Regular hours: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Extended summer hours apply to certain days from late March to early Sept.; call for details.  www.nasm.si.edu

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. 14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway, Chantilly. Tel. 202-633-1000. Open every day except Dec. 25. Regular hours: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Extended summer hours apply to certain days from late May to early Sept.; call for details.  www.nasm.si.edu/udvarhazy

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March 18, 2012 . . . Enjoying the Cherry Blossoms

Wearing Green for St. Patrick's Day at the Tidal Basin.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the ceremonial planting of the Japanese flowering cherry trees along the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C.   My family was fortunate to take in the beauty of the Cherry Blossoms this past weekend thanks to spring arriving a little early.  In addition to their beauty, we learned that the trees are also a historic and diplomatic landmark.

In 1912 the Mayor of Tokyo gave 3,020 cherry trees to the city of Washington, DC as a gift to honor the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan.  On March 27, 1912, First Lady Helen Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador planted the first two trees from Japan on the north bank of the Tidal Basin.  The first “festival” occurred in 1927 when a group of school children reenacted the initial planting.

The Cherry Blossom Festival has grown since then and this year it is March 24th through April 15th.  There are  ranger-led programs like “Cherry Talks” and “Lantern Walks” scheduled to celebrate the 100th anniversary.  Bike Tours on the weekends and 3.5 mile Cherry Chit-Chat Run on Saturdays are also scheduled through the National Park Service.  Kids can also join in on the fun at the Bloomin’ Jr. Ranger Tent at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial by earning Jr. Ranger Badges with hands on activities between 10:30 am and 4 pm on the weekends.

Thomas Jefferson Memorial

Families might also enjoy viewing the “Sea of Cherries” while enjoying a picnic lunch or from the water on a paddle boat.  It is recommended to reserve a paddle boat in advance on-line through Tidal Basin Paddle Boats.   A two passenger boat is $12 an hour and a four passenger boat is $19 hour.

Paddle Boats on the Tidal Basin with the Washington Monument in the background.

Two other events not to be missed is the Blossom Kite Festival on March 31st and the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade on April 14th.  For more information about other events check out the official site of the National Cherry Blossom Festival or download the 2012 Festival app to your phone.

Taking a break from sightseeing.

According to the people of Japan, the cherry blossom trees, also known as Sakura, bear a deep important symbolism that has drawn people together for generations. This past weekend these magnificent trees brought three generations of my family together.  I hope your family will also be able to enjoy the same experience over the next two weeks by celebrating 100 years of the gift of trees.

100th Anniversary of the Cherry Blossoms.

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