Welcome to the National Archives, the shrine for the Charters of Freedom (which include the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights). Our visit to the archives includes an interesting vignette. On the Metro we randomly struck up a conversation with a woman who was smiling at Sierra. As it turns out, she works at the archives. As we were stepping off the Metro, she said, "Follow me. I'll get you past those long lines." So we followed her, headed in a back door, looped through a maze of hallways, and emerged in the Rotunda, the hall that contains the Charters of Freedom. And, to our satisfaction, we saw a sea of middle schoolers on their class trip waiting to get in just behind us. Patricia, if you're reading this, we salute you. Below is a picture of simply one of the displays...I took a photo of the Declaration and the Constitution, but they just look like yellow blobs. Although most of the lettering has faded, being right next to the documents that form the highest law of our land and basically inaugurated global democracy was an experience I recommend. Unfortunately, it's an experience that all those middle schoolers can hardly appreciate. Education is best enjoyed, in my opinion, by adults.
I should also mention that the archives contain basically all primary sources of American history, from immigrant documentation and letters from our founding fathers to thousands of reels of congressional video or photos of presidents when they were six (George W. was quite a little cowboy). The museum inside, called The Public Vaults, was fantastic. Below I am flexing next to the pillars outside the National Archives.
After the tour we sat on the steps and enjoyed some ice cream. Sierra got her very first taste of vanilla ice cream. She was delighted.
Across from the National Archives is the National Sculpture Garden. Resting by the pond is just what we needed before making the trek home.
Thoughts on the National Archives: There is an inscription beneath a statue outside the Archives. It says, "The Heritage of the Past is the Seed that Brings Forth the Harvest of the Future." What do you think about that? The US government has gone to great lengths to remember just about everything with the idea that our past is perhaps our most treasured asset to guiding us into the future. If this is true, a lot more of us should be reading and studying history on leisurely weeknights than watching American Idol or CSI. I don't mean to cut too deep here, but future generations are depending on us. Will we leave them without the wisdom of history or will we give them both the lessons of good and ill so they can form a better future? That's a question we should all wrestle with.