But this trip was far from finished. There were several things that we had
failed to accomplish on our trip the previous year, and this was the perfect
opportunity to cross some things off of our historical to do list. Upon our
departure from the hotel, we proceeded to the recently opened National World
War II Memorial. The World War II Memorial is one of the few things in life that I
have actually found to be breathtaking. Between the brilliant structure of the
memorial and the amazing fountain in its center, the scene all seemed surreal. It
was a cloudy, damp day, but for some reason it was as though the miserable
weather had brought out the best in the memorial.
From there, we strolled a short distance to the Lincoln Memorial, and eventually to the nearby Arlington National Cemetery. Using a map we had gotten the previous year, we were able to track down the grave of William Howard Taft. We found the president and his wife in an isolated part of the cemetery, overshadowed by trees that provided a lot of unneeded shade that day. After I saluted the former president, we retraced out steps back near General Lee’s house and found the grave of JFK. Due to the dismal weather, there were not many people in attendance that day, but John Kennedy's grave still appeared to be a popular tourist spot. Finally, I had my picture taken with his grave, and I was absolutely glowing. We had one last stop to make, and then we could leave. It took us a few minutes, but we located the grave of JFK’s younger brother, who was also taken by gunfire. RFK’s grave was just as we had left it the previous year. Just a plain white cross and a little marker on the ground. A modest marker for a man with many significant achievements. Pierre L’Enfant and Robert Todd Lincoln weren’t on the agenda that day, but I will be sure to return for them at some point.
After our mission was deemed a success, we walked back to the Lincoln Memorial, where we were able to hail a taxi and take it to Ford’s Theatre. During our previous trip, the theatre had been closed due to renovations. With a stroke of luck, the theatre had reopened and we were granted admission. The inside of the theatre was almost as surreal as the memorial for the second World War. Its ceiling was a beautiful work of art. Its walls had the most intricate designs. And the presidential box... It was just as it looked in 1865. All of the ornate furnishings were in place. The aged banners still lined the outside of the box... President Washington’s portrait was still hanging on the wall as well. Below the main room was a small museum about the assassination. Some of the artifacts included the overcoat worn by Lincoln during that night, the original door that Booth stood behind, waiting for his big moment, and the actual Philadelphia Deringer Booth used to commit the deed. When we left the building, all I could think about was the Presidential Box. It was just as it was always depicted in illustrations; just as I pictured it.
The same could not be said about the Petersen House across the street,
where Lincoln actually died. It seems that in engravings and illustrations the size
of the guest room had been greatly exaggerated. There is no way on Earth the
forty-five other people shown in this painting could have fit in this small room.
After purchasing a Reagan shirt and bobble head at a nearby gift shop, we headed back to the Marriott and began preparation for the end of the trip.