Jan 3, 2018

Travelogue - Washington DC

"I have a dream" Thundered Martin Luther King Jr standing in front of Lincoln Memorial on 28-Aug-1963 . He did have a dream..Everyone who flocked to America had a dream. What makes the United States a land of opportunities ? To feel the answer, you have to visit Washington DC.

I visited Washington DC before NewYork . Yet, I chose to write about New York first and then DC.  Thats because to illustrate USA, the best metaphor is NY. But to understand why USA has been so and so, there is perhaps no better substitute than Washington DC.

Lincoln Memorial

The answers to that is present in the National Archives building made famous to the young generation by the movie National Treasure. In there lies three important pieces of history that has defined America - Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, Constitution . To most visitors, Declaration of Independence is the central piece of attraction here. To me, it was Bill of Rights.
Everyone picks up a copy of Declaration of Independence, I picked up a copy of Bill of Rights.

FDR Memorial

Korean war memorial - 19 soldiers scanning 360 degrees
Written by James Madison in response to the demand to safe guard individual freedom and liberties, Bill of Rights is the set of first ten amendments to the US constitution. The first glance at Bill of Rights is sure to give you an 'ah its so out-dated' kind of feeling.  While that feeling to a millennial won't be unsubstantiated, the essence of bill of rights is that United States placed individual liberties as of paramount importance even above the constitutional limits.

These set of amendments gave foundation to the thoughts of inspiring leaders like Martin Luther King Jr to challenge the state, Rosa Parks to challenge the black-white segregation in public places, it gave countless others the belief to challenge the status quo and fight for a change through lawful means

Wright Brother's Aircraft - @ Smithsonian National Air 
and Space Museum
In this age where the national boundaries are getting more firmer through the political events happening around the world, Bill of Rights ( which has to be read in conjunction with the 'Federalist Papers' )  is a wonderful and inspiring pointer for the lawmakers today towards a set of questions - What should be the central philosophy of lawmaking - Nation  or People ? What exactly is Nation ?  Does it make sense to preach the concept of Nation to a set of population which is deprived of basic human necessities ?

DC houses some of the most visible symbols of United States - The Capitol ( Parliament equivalent ) , Whitehouse ,  a huge number of memorials and museums.

Touching A Piece of Moon @ National
Air & Space Museum

The FDR memorial is  one of the recent ones as well as most impressive ones. Dedicated to Franklin D Roosevelt who led America through the tumultuous part of 20th century inspite of this disabilities,  this place captures various phases in his life and career through a series of quotes.

Smithsonian museums are treasures of humanity .  This is a place in America where you should take your school going kids to.  The air and space museum explains various aspects of aviation so beautifully. You could see the original aircraft that aviators like Wright brothers and Charles Lindbergh used . You can even touch a piece of moon! And all these are free for public (Read the story behind Smithsonian here )

The cold war era has got two outstanding memorials here -Korean War and Vietnam war memorial. Korean war memorial is an architecturally and symbolically interesting place. 19 soldiers scanning 360 degrees around them. The reflection plus the original 19 soldiers refer to the North 38 degree parallel which separated North and South Korea.

A thought is left at the end of national archives referring to Vietnam war - Why did these mistakes happen inspite of having such robust and well debated bill of rights and constitution ? Thats something worth examining in detail for someone interested in modern American history.

At the end of the day after experiencing DC, one can't help, but acknowledge that this city on the banks of Potomac River is indeed the guiding philosophy behind the fabled American dream

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