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A Temporary Home Revisited

December 26, 2011

It has been a few months since I packed up my things and said my goodbyes to some of the best people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet.  I loved DC and to this day I smile whenever something in the present triggers a memory from the past.

Being back at my college is wonderful.  I work as Vice President for our Neighborhood Watch club which means many hours of planning and many hours of community service.  Working in Neighborhood Watch has been and is one of the many joys I experience daily at my college.

During the latter days of October the executive board met to plan a December event, a last way to have all of our club members together to do something fun.  Our advisor and I had been doing some behind-the-scenes talking and came up with the fantastic idea of visiting the National Law Enforcement Memorial (although I don’t think we thought it’d actually happen).  She brought it up at one of our E-Board meetings and the idea caught on.  We worked hard to make this trip a reality and so on December 3rd, fifty students got on the bus and went.

We took I-95 down to DC early in the morning and arrived at the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall.  I was excited to finally cross off more items on my DC Bucket List (which can be found on the main page of this blog) and speed walked over with my friends to the Lincoln Memorial.  It was so refreshing after a long bus ride and an even longer absence from a city I love to be stepping on its grass once again.  My roommate and I imitated running up the steps like in Rocky (it’s only natural on a long flight of stairs) and read the passage flowing down the wall.  It was a really cool moment, but the moment passed in brevity as we were collected together to take a photo shoot before moving onto the next memorial (we only had an hour to visit three).

From the Lincoln we walked over to the Korean War Memorial which I had not known was in the area (forgive me).  The memorial was spooky in an unscary way (make sense?).  I was astounded at how much fear was captured in the eyes of the statue soldiers.  I paused to reflect on an acquaintance of mine who once told me she had a relative who served in the war.  Looking at those statues and thinking of what my friend’s father may have gone through put a very real connection in front of me.  Whoever designed the memorial did an incredible job.

The long wall to the side of the statues was simply amazing.  I presume the images were etched onto the wall digitally.  Up close the images looked pixelated and from afar they seemed to fade into the stone.  I noticed my reflection faded into the stone as well– another clever trick from the designer.  This impressed me the most.  Soldiers and tourists blended together in a reflection.  Whomever we may be, we are all seemingly connected.

From Korea we walked across the path to the Vietnam Memorial.  I had hoped to be able to see this at some point.  I love its simplicity– not understated and not ostentatious.  The names etched into each panel were saddening and surreal.  I’ve taken classes on Vietnam and heard personal stories at the National Memorial Day Concert and nothing hits home like visiting this place.  I saw a few students with sullen faces– the impact of such a simple design can be powerful.

After our hour was up we gathered together to get back on the bus and we headed over to the National Law Enforcement Memorial.  I was so happy to go back to my “quiet” spot where I used to eat my lunch on free days and stop and rest on weekends.  The NLEOM was one of my favorite parts of DC for its relatively calm and pondering atmosphere.  We were dropped off by the shuttle driver and the students began to make their way around the oval-like memorial to read the names of the fallen police officers.

It was here that I made a temporary detour to find our next destination on the itinerary and it is here that the name of this entry holds its significance.  I used to walk around DC easily  and knowingly like it was the back of my hand.  While on this trip I managed to get a little lost for which I felt shameful.  It reminded me that I lived here for ten weeks, temporarily.  I was saddened by my confusion as to where our next destination was.  DC felt like home, and it was home.  But not for long.

I found my destination and then, thankfully, I easily made my way back to the NLEOMF.  Students sat together at different points around the site, resting from all the walking we had done earlier.  As our time came to a close we took one group picture before walking to our next stop.  It puts a smile on my face to see how many people sat there with me this time, taking in the sites and sounds of my favorite place in DC.  I’m happy I could share the experience– it meant a lot to me :] 

Our next event on the itinerary took us to the Museum of Crime & Punishment in Chinatown.  I never got the chance to go there during the summer so I was eager to see it now.  The museum was packed full of personal possessions of some of America’s most notorious crooks.  It was a little eerie!  I even felt a little nauseated when I saw some of the medieval torture devices and the room housing our nation’s execution contraptions.  I did not get through the entire museum although I was okay with that.  We set up a surprise for our club members and told them they were able to do a forensics workshop in the basement where America’s Most Wanted is filmed.  It was great watching the students solve the “murder” that took place in the museum.

Our final stop was at the front lawn of the White House where the Christmas tree was located.  We took twenty minutes to take pictures and walk around the perimeter of the site to see the big tree and the fifty smaller trees representing the states.  When we were finished we got on the bus one last time and headed home.

That day was fantastic and gave me a happy feeling of nostalgia.  I am grateful to my college for allowing us the funds to make the trip possible.  Washington, DC, is by far the most unique city I have visited.  To say I lived there, even if it was only temporarily, is something I relish.  It was a major life experience I’ll never forget, and with each trip back in the future, I’ll only be happier I had the chance to make memories of a lifetime.

Note: Not all pictures were taken by me.  Many photos during the trip were taken by one or more people.

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