Last night David and I took a random'ish walk through the US Capital area of DC and I was treated to not one, but three new (to me) and remarkable sites.
First up, the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial. Apparently, this is the only military memorial in DC that's independent of branch or conflict. This memorial strikes me as a tough one to get right: you don't want to glorify war, nor condemn it. You don't want to trivialize the challenges Veterans with disabilities face, nor turn them into inpsirational props. I think the monument struck this balance well, and most importantly, it gets the conversation started.
Lightening things up from there, we wandered over to the US Botanic Garden. It was past 5pm, so in theory, the garden should have been closed. But they're doing holiday events, so it was open. David and I got to wander through a nearly empty Botanic Garden, and take in the very cool holiday train display. Seriously, if you've got a Thomas obsessed little one, you definitely need to make your way to this exhibit. What the train room lacks in size it makes up for in interesting detail. Oh, and the whole thing is free. Definitely a winner activity.
As if moths drawn to the flame, after the garden we made our way towards the brightly lit US Capitol and its Christmas tree. As has become our tradition, David and I stood by the tree and lamented the fact that we celebrate the holiday season by killing a gorgeous 74 foot tree. The practice of which seems only slightly perverse. (I know, we're literally a bunch of tree huggers.) And from there we found ourselves outside the stately Russell Office Building. David was smart enough to find a visitor entrance, and after a quick security check, in we went.
The big deal behind the Russell Office Building is that it houses the offices of the US Senators. We wandered through the halls and passed office after office of well known Senator. I was such a tourist, peeking my head in wherever I could and snapping tons of photos. It was remarkable to consider that some of the most influential people in the country walk these halls on a daily basis, and we were just roaming the corridors like a bunch of kids cutting math class. The building has that old school ornate quality about it that makes every part of it look interesting (and causes you to repeatedly mutter: man, they sure don't make 'em like they used to). Definitely a fun experience.
For a small city, DC is truly packed with amazing treasures just waiting for you to practically trip over them.