DOWN AND OUT
IN WASHINGTON D.C.
Ahhh, summertime!!! A time for vacations, for relaxing from a
long year of hard work. A time to stop the rat race and have fun. A time
for a joyous celebration of life.
Some people head for the beach, some to the mountains. Some
play golf, some go on cruises. Some choose to stay home and relax. And
some are even stupid enough to visit Washington D.C. in the summertime.
That would be us.
It seemed like a good idea at the time. We hadn't been to the
nation's capitol since college days, and I'd never been to the Smithsonian
or any of the other exhilarating historical museums.
"Where should we go first," my wife said excitedly
as we woke up in a downtown hotel on the first day of our vacation.
"How about we start with the Vietnam Memorial?" I
suggested as I surveyed the little pocket map.
"What fun!!" she exclaimed. "I can't
So off we trudged through the 95 degree heat and humidity,
sweating profusely and thinking of nothing but all the dead servicemen who
gave their lives for our country. We read quite a few of the 58,000 names
on the Vietnam War Memorial wall. What a great way to start a vacation!!
Next up was the Smithsonian's American History Museum, where
there were fun-filled exhibitions of slavery, racial brutality, mustard
gas in World War I, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Korean War atrocities, napalm in
Vietnam, assassinations, thrilling videos of people jumping out of the
World Trade Center on 9-11, and much, much more.
"This is the best vacation I've ever had," I
exulted as we left the American History Museum and began to crawl
breathlessly two long blocks to the Air and Space Museum. "I'm
"Me, too," she replied, sweat (or was it tears)
pouring down her face. "Let's take a break. I can't handle much more
fun in one day."
We went back to the hotel, saving the supposedly fascinating
Air and Space Museum for another day. After an overpriced and lackluster dinner discussing which of
the death scenes was most disturbing, we slumped back to the comfort of
The next morning, after a tortured night's sleep, we had
newfound energy in our quest to become thoroughly depressed. So off we
went to the Newseum, which is a brilliant showcase of the media's role in
publicizing all the world's atrocities, as only the media can.
Same old disasters, but this time through the magic of print,
radio, television and the internet. Five floors of heart-shattering
images. The topper was the Pulitzer Prize photo exhibit, with one
disturbing picture after another, including one of a starving boy in the
Sudan, hunched over in a field with a vulture fifteen feet away, waiting
patiently for him to die.
"This vacation just keeps getting better and
better," I sang as we trudged back to the hotel amid the gas fumes of
tour buses racing by. "I can't wait for tomorrow!!!"
Neither could my wife, and we woke up the next morning as
excited as ever. Yep, today was the day. We were off to the Holocaust
Oh, what fun we had!!! First we toured the genocide exhibit,
with loads of heart-breaking pictures and gruesome details of Cambodia,
Rwanda, Bosnia, and even Syria. But that was just a warmup to the real
treat of seeing every detail of the Holocaust.
"Had enough fun?" I asked my wife as we silently
and solemnly walked back to our hotel for another night of wondering how
humans could be so evil. "What do you say we go watch some cartoons
Instead, we downed a bottle of wine and discussed how our
vacation was very educational and how we had no desire to ever visit
Washington D.C. again.
We had one more sweltering day, though, and we finally made
it to the Air and Space Museum. A few disasters, such as the Columbia and
Discovery explosions and the Apollo fire, but generally inspiring.
And after three days of seeing nothing but wars, genocide and starvation,
we could certainly understand the quest to get off this planet and find