A Lesson in US History – Part I

I thought finding a hotel room in Aqaba over any holiday, from 3eed to Christmas, was difficult. Compared to finding a hotel room in DC over Memorial Day, it’s a piece of cake! After spending a few hours on Expedia, and begging several people on the phone, I was able to secure a hotel room near the Georgetown neighborhood, at the Holiday Inn. I counted my blessings, packed my bags, and caught a very packed Amtrak train to Union Station, in Washington DC.

For once, I was thankful for a long taxi line. It gave me the opportunity to take in the architectural beauty of Union Station, which definitely resembled the Greek Parthenon with its many columns and statues. What really caught my eye though, was the quotes engraved on several parts of the building, all inspiring and all so beautifully written. Of the many I saw, my favorite was without a doubt the one that read,
“The desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.” Sort of reminded me of home ;)

I really didn’t spend much time at the hotel. Once I checked in, I dropped off my suitcases, grabbed my bag and sunglasses, and immediately hailed a cab. For some reason, even before I got off the train at Union Station, I knew that the first place I wanted to see was the Lincoln Memorial. Honestly, it was close to sunset, and from a lot of movies I’ve seen (mainly Wedding Crashers), I knew that if I make it in time I would have a pretty good view of the places I planned on visiting the next day.

As I approached the Lincoln Memorial, I saw swarms of people, and so many American flags, of all sizes. The cab driver dropped me off about two blocks from the memorial. We were surrounded by tons of Motorcycles, specifically Harleys, and he refused to continue driving in the same direction they were. The sun had just started to set. I decided to take in the view from the middle of the steps before going up all the way to see Lincoln’s statue. I sat, mesmerized by the beauty of the view in front of me. The Washington Monument was not too far, and I could make out the Washington Capitol building (which houses the House and Senate) right behind it.

About 20 minutes later, I did what I did best, and located what seemed to be a British tour group, and shadowed them to pick up a few facts about the Memorial. Because I was in “tourist” mode myself, everything I heard I somehow memorized. I will not bore anyone with too many details or construction dates, but I will share a few interesting facts that I learned.  Lincoln’s statue was huge, and a feeling of authority resonated from the actual sculpture, which was built by Daniel Chester French. Lincoln’s second inaugural address and his Gettysburg Address were engraved on the inside walls of the Memorial. I got Goosebumps reading the final sentence of the Gettysburg Address, which I’m sure most will recognize: “the government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

However, perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Memorial, was Lincoln’s head believe it or not. Following this British tour guide’s lead, I was instructed to look at the back of Abe’s head. Looking carefully, one notices a profile of a face. Apparently, two theories exist as to explain why it’s there. Some suggest that this is the profile of a General Robert E. Lee, who was apparently the military commander of the Confederate Army, and Lincoln’s opponent. In the tour guide’s words, “perhaps Chester was attempting to show that Lee was always on the back of Lincoln’s mind.” Fascinating. The second theory is that the profile is actually that of Chester’s himself, as a way of signing his work. Personally, I prefer the first theory!

With one monument off the bucket list, I decided to call it a night, and head back to the hotel to plan out my Sunday schedule. I obviously couldn’t do this on an empty stomach, and was craving a burger. I shared this with the cab driver, and he told me that I had to try out a place called “Five Guys,” which was only a short bus ride from my hotel. I did just that. Yes, fast food is bad for you, but the Cheeseburger I had here was one of the best I’ve ever had hands down, even though it was one of those meals you enjoy thoroughly during, but then regret after, because you feel so full. Sa7tein me!

My first few hours in DC flew by. An adequate amount of sleep was necessary if I actually wanted to stay focused for the second part of my U.S. history lesson the next day.

Stay tuned for some cool pics!

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One thought on “A Lesson in US History – Part I

  1. Michael Nazzal says:

    Nicely written.. Enjoy your long weekend.

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