January 29, 2014

Project DC: Vietnam Veterans Memorial

When I was in elementary school, we took a family vacation down to DC. I remember stopping at the souvenir vendor trucks and picking out a t-shirt for myself and my best friend, Kristie, before we made our way to the Vietnam Memorial. I was so excited to do a pencil tracing of some of the names on the memorial, even though we didn't know any of the deceased. I think we lingered there a while as I walked up and down the memorial in awe, my little fingertips feeling the grooves of each letter engraved into that reflective black wall. Even at ten years old, I knew that this memorial was meaningful.

Since moving to DC as an adult, however, I hadn't made it back to the memorial. The hubs had never been before, which seemed like such a shame, so this past weekend, we decided to take advantage of a cherry, sunny day and head downtown. It was crowded, of course, and most people seemed to shuffle dutifully by from one end of the wall to the other. While the throngs of tourists are unavoidable mid-afternoon, I urge anyone who visits the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to take their time. It is such a simple yet powerful memorial, and there is something haunting about the reflection of living faces mirrored against the names of the deceased. Let yourself take in that feeling. You won't forget it.

We also visited the Three Soldiers Memorial and the Vietnam Women's Memorial, which round out the whole memorial experience. While I think that the wall is undoubtedly the highlight, I think these other two structures are also worthwhile and important.

This is the sort of memorial experience that is worth braving the tourist crowds. It's so close to the other major sights downtown, and if you let yourself slow down, you'll appreciate the magnitude of the experience.

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Want to read more about having fun in DC? Follow along as I embark on Project DC:

2. Go for a leisurely hike in Rock Creek Park.
3. Go on a White House tour.
6. Take a day trip to Annapolis.
7. Go to the Newseum.
8. Go back to Jazz in the Garden when it starts up again in the spring.
9. Go to the Holocaust Museum.
11. See the FDR Memorial.
13. Go to the National Portrait Gallery.
14. Go to the Corcoran.
15. Visit the Vietnam Memorial.
17. Go to more embassy events.
19. See the drum circle at Malcolm X Park.
20. Mini golf at H Street Country Club.
21. Evening drinks at POV.
22. Visit the National Archives.
24. Walk through the National Arboretum.
26. Go to the Jefferson Memorial.