Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Honoring the Fallen

We started today at the Holocaust Museum.  They had a survivor talk scheduled for when we first arrived that we were able to listen to.  The speaker was 91 years old and had spent time in a concentration camp building an airplane hanger.  There were two parts from her stories that resonated with me.  The first was that she lived in Hungary under Communist control, but still had no idea that the Jews from Europe were being exterminated.  Even when they got to Auschwitz she did not realize that they were being separated for work camps and the gas chamber.  The second part that stuck with me after she finished was that her family of nine became a family of three after the war.

Once the talk was over we headed to our tour of the museum.  We each picked up a passport with our identity as a Holocaust victim.  The pictures and information that we read were sad.  It was not meant to be uplifting, but a time to remember.  We spent almost two hours going through the exhibits.  Meg remarked that the leather shoes of the victims exhibit was extremely sad.  I thought the three story wall of pictures of a town wiped out by Nazis was equally depressing.  The most eye opening part of the tour  for me was the fact that Germany's population of Jews in 1933 when Hitler came to power was only 1%.  Thus, he blamed an extremely small percentage of his country for all of Germany's problems.  I thought of life today and the outcry during the election against the 1% in the United States holding the majority of the countries wealth.  Just like today it does not make sense to me that any political party would blame a small portion of the country for the majority's problems.  Hitler obviously took it further than anyone today, but knowing that others called President Trump Hitler because of his stance on immigration became even more offensive to me after walking through the Holocaust Museum.  I also believe that it lessens the memory of the six million extermination by the Nazi's during World War II.

We took a break after The Holocaust Museum for lunch outside of the Pentagon Mall.  It was a nice place to reflect and get everyone's perspective on the museum and speaker that we saw today.  We each reported back on how our identity fared during the Holocaust.  Brett, Meg, Cam, Hannah-Marie and I were all happy to report that we survived.  Doug and Cal, unfortunately, were not so lucky.  After we ate we spent some time shopping.  Brett and Cam found some new games at Game Stop.  Meg and I headed to the Lego store and Forever 21.  HM and Cal spent part of their time looking for Vans and Doug made phone alls for work.

After the mall we stopped at Arlington Cemetery.  We saw many of the same sights as last time - Taft's grave, the JFK's eternal flame, Arlington House and the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  I spent a lot of time reading other tombstones as well as I walked a lot slower tonight than I did last night and was alright with others going on ahead.  Brett and I even found Oliver Wendell Holmes on this journey.  It started to rain as we left the cemetery, but we were still able to visit the Air Force Memorial, the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial and the Iwo Jima Memorial.  All were impressive.

We were ready for dinner after the memorials and found a place near Brett's apartment building called the Union Bar.  The food was delicious and we appreciated sitting down for awhile.  We dropped Brett off after dinner so he could take the suitcase we brought for him home.  Once we got back to the hotel Cal, HM, Meg and Cameron all went to the hot tub.  Doug and I tried the bar in the lobby.  It was a completely different scene than the one from breakfast this morning.  There were a lot less people and for the most part a nice place to unwind.

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