Washing DC Trip- Day 1- Arlington National Cemetery & Iwo Jima

Jared has been traveling a lot for work. They’ve been upgrading their network equipment in each office. They are a large company that has offices all over the nation and internationally. He hasn’t gotten to go international yet though. 😛 
He found out a few weeks ago that he’d be going to Washington DC. We’ve been discussing taking a family trip at the end of the school year. Walker is graduating HS and possibly going on a mission soon. We thought about going to New Orleans since both the boys love jazz and Eli has been taking French this year and has learned so much about it. But when it came down to logistics, cost, and what would be more family friendly we felt DC was the better choice. 
Jared has for years, talked about taking the kids to DC. It was a bucket list item for him. It also was a BIG plus that Jared’s airfare, hotel, Uber’s, and food would be covered for most of trip! That saved us a ton! It wasn’t ideal for the kids to miss 4 days of school but sometimes you have to do what is best for your family, not the schools. 
As much as I wanted to go and make memories with my family, I haven’t traveled since getting sick almost 2 years ago. Planning the trip was fun but when it came time to hit the “book it” button, I had a complete break down. My anxiety kicked into full gear and I was doubting everything. I just couldn’t move passed it. I was in tears. Poor Jared didn’t know what to do with me. I just sobbed at him. I didn’t want to hold the family back. I didn’t want my anxiety and PTSD to win. I’m so tired of it holding me back from life!!!
I eventually booked the trip but up until I was actually in the airport I was having panic attacks, sleepless nights, and questioning if I would be able to cope for 6 days. It was awful. 
I stumbled across this pic on FB and posted this the morning we left:
“Our family is going to DC today. Two years ago I never thought that I’d be able to feel safe enough to travel again. This week has been full of constant prayers and anxiety…but I’m grateful that I’m to a point that I can try things again. Don’t let me fool you with any facade FB pics we might post portray. I want to be real. This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done! Any prayers are so very appreciated!!!” 
The response from family and friends was overwhelming. I needed every word of encouragement and support they gave to me!! It meant the world to me and I know it carried me through to be able to do it. I couldn’t have done it without them and my Heavenly Father cheering me on. 
I’ve noticed that when I’m about to do something that feels too hard or too big Satan really kicks in and plays off of my fears. Sometimes to the point where I can’t breathe or move. I tend to blame it on my PTSD and what I’m going through, but I’ve been noticing more, if I can try to step forward and remind myself that God doesn’t give me those feelings, only Satan does, that once I do them, I feel ok. It’s not as horrible as I thought it was going to be. But it’s still really hard and frustrating and scary. The adversary uses my weaknesses and blows them out of proportion. He doesn’t want me to see what I’m capable of. He wants me to hide and not live my fullest life. As I’m learning this however, it’s REALLY hard to remember!!! 
I’m doing so, so, so much better than I was almost 2 years ago. I still have a ways to go. But I’m beginning to live again and I can’t even express how incredible that is and what an absolute MIRACLE it is in my life… and in my family’s life! 
This is us as we are about to board the plane. I used to be terrified to fly. I guess when you have a fear that’s bigger than another you aren’t as afraid of the 1st thing? I don’t know…or maybe it was everyone’s prayers? Or God blessing me with the peace I needed? But I wasn’t worried about flying this time at all. I will admit however, once I sat in my seat and had a moment for my brain to start spinning on “stuff”, I took a Xanex to keep me calm. I don’t take them typically, very rarely in fact. But I had a 4 hr. flight ahead of me and didn’t want to let my head get in a bad place before we even landed. 
I booked the kids and I together and Jared had to book through his work. He ended up not being able to sit near us. Darn it! 
We tried to keep busy with lots of selfies. 😛 
Alayna used her time a little more wisely. 🙂 
She amazes me! The stewardess was impressed too! She walked by and then walked back and asked her if she drew that? Alayna said yes. She said she was amazed at her talent! She said it was incredible! 🙂 That made Alayna’s day!!! 😀 
We made it safely to Dulles airport. It was cheaper to fly there than Reagan. Also Reagan didn’t have any direct flights. When I initially booked the trip Jared still wasn’t sure if he’d have to fly out the day before us. I didn’t want to have to deal with layovers and connecting flights if I was going to be on my own with the kids. Dulles is a little further away though. 
We arrived at our 1st hotel. The Westin Georgetown. Jared’s work paid for this hotel. It is just a few blocks away from the office they were working at. 
Once we got our luggage to our room and grabbed some dinner we ventured off to our first tourist attraction. 
Eli is a crazy kid! Walking in DC is part of the experience. In AZ we just don’t walk as a mode of transportation…LOL! Eli is all about speed. If the walk signs were about to turn he’d bolt across like a maniac. I’m sure he gave more than one driver a heart attack!!! 

We didn’t make the light..LOL! 
The Metro is the public transportation there. It is so efficient and easy!!! When Jared and I went to New York several years ago and used the subways we got lost for 1/2 a day!!! It was really nice to get you where you needed to go and it was cheap! 🙂 

Our first stop was Arlington National Cemetery. We barely made it to the very last changing of the guard at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We were running up to the top of the hill as fast as we could go. I can’t really run with my bad foot but I did my best! We made it….just in the nick of time!

This was inside the museum/visitor’s center they have there. Unfortunately, we got there so late we didn’t have time to walk through any of it. We just happened to snap this on our way through to the cemetery. I wish we would have had more time! 

Every time they would put their feet together they would kick one of their legs out first. It was interesting. I’m sure there is a story behind that. 

It was really neat to see the dedication and reverence give to the fallen. We were all shocked at just how huge the cemetery is! It’s 642 acres (roughly 472 football fields) and more than 400,000 people are buried there! I’m so grateful for those men and women. My heart aches for their families. The loss of life still continues today. I’m humbled and grateful for their service and sacrifice for our nation
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
1. How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the tomb of the Unknowns and why?
21 steps. It alludes to the twenty-one gun salute, which is the highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary.
2. How long does he hesitate after his about face to begin his return walk and why?
21 seconds for the same reason as answer number 1
3. Why are his gloves wet?
His gloves are moistened to prevent his losing his grip on the rifle.
4. Does he carry his rifle on the same shoulder all the time and if not, why not?
He carries the rifle on the shoulder away from the tomb. After his march across the path, he executes an about face and moves the rifle to the outside shoulder.
5. How often are the guards changed?
Guards are changed every thirty minutes, twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.
6. What are the physical traits of the guard limited to?
For a person to apply for guard duty at the tomb, he must be between 5′ 10′ and 6′ 2′ tall and his waist size cannot exceed 30.’ Other requirements of the Guard:
They must commit 2 years of life to guard the tomb, live in a barracks under the tomb, and cannot drink any alcohol on or off duty for the rest of their lives.
They cannot swear in public for the rest of their lives and cannot disgrace the uniform {fighting} or the tomb in any way. After two years, the guard is given a wreath pin that is worn on their lapel signifying they served as guard of the tomb. There are only 400 presently worn.
The guard must obey these rules for the rest of their lives or give up the wreath pin.
The shoes are specially made with very thick soles to keep the heat and cold from their feet. There are metal heel plates that extend to the top of the shoe in order to make the loud click as they come to a halt.
There are no wrinkles, folds or lint on the uniform.
Guards dress for duty in front of a full-length mirror.
The first six months of duty a guard cannot talk to anyone, nor watch TV.
All off duty time is spent studying the 175 notable people laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. A guard must memorize who they are and where they are interred.
Among the notables are: President Taft, Joe E. Lewis {the boxer} and Medal of Honor winner Audie Murphy, {the most decorated soldier of WWII} of Hollywood fame.
Every guard spends five hours a day getting his uniforms ready for guard duty.
In 2003 as Hurricane Isabelle was approaching Washington , DC , our US Senate/House took 2 days off with anticipation of the storm. On the ABC evening news, it was reported that because of the dangers from the hurricane, the military members assigned the duty of guarding the
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were given permission to suspend the assignment.
They respectfully declined the offer, ‘No way, Sir!’ Soaked to the skin, marching in the pelting rain of a tropical storm, they said that guarding the Tomb was not just an assignment, it was the highest honor that can be afforded to a service person.
The tomb has been patrolled continuously, 24/7, since 1930.

The architecture is beautiful!

After the ceremony we walked down to the John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame Memorial. 

By the time we got there the guards reminded us what time it was and did their best to shoe us out. It was past closing. 
We hurried on our way and snapped a few more pictures. 
 Sometimes we wonder about Eli. LOL!!! Jared was conflicted about taking this cuz of where we were and the reverence that should be given there. 
 From Arlington it’s just a short walk to the Marine Corps War Memorial also known as the Iwo Jima Memorial. We headed over there next. 
 It depicts one of the most historic battles of World War II, the battle of Iwo Jima. The memorial is dedicated to all marines who have given their lives in battle.It is an impressive memorial. We were all taken off guard with how large it is! There is so much detail too! It made my heart stir for sure! <3 

My kids love each other….they get along so well and they honestly are great friends. It makes my heart happy! But…maybe I need to keep teaching them about reverence. LOL!
 It was a long day of travel, riding the Metro, and walking that we couldn’t bare the thought of walking all the way back. So we called an Uber and zipped to the hotel. Got in our showers and flopped into bed! 
Alayna likes to “twin” with me. I love that she still thinks it’s fun! 😛 
 I’m not sure why Walker didn’t come and snuggle in with us? LOL! That king bed was huge!
It was a great 1st day and got us rolling on all the “must sees” for our trip! 

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