I took off of work on my birthday so I could volunteer at the World War II Memorial. I would have loved to have been able to volunteer at WAMO, but it’s closed indefinitely so they can address the elevator issues, among other things. So WWII it was.
For most of the day, it was just me. There was a Ranger there when I arrived, but he was quickly off to do a tour. I spent some time in the Memorial after he was finished with his tour, and then he was off to a class in the afternoon and it was my show for the rest of the day.
There was a pretty wide range of visitors throughout the day, from school groups to a group from one of the embassies, to a family of homeschooled children, to some elderly couples from just south of London. It was fairly grey but not cold for most of the day, though the sun did break through around 3 PM. And, as always, the visitors did not disappoint.
Visitor: Hello, can we get the Junior Ranger books here?
Me: Yes, we actually have two choices here. We have some special books left over from our centennial celebration, or you can have the regular folder with a worksheet for each Memorial.
*Visitor asks her kids which they want*
Son: I want the special one!
Daughter: Umm, I don’t know.
Me: Would you like me to give you one of each and they can work on them together?
Visitor: That sounds like a great idea!
Me: OK, they look like they are under 8.
Visitor: Yes, they are 6 and 4.
Me: OK, they will have to complete 4 activities to get their badges. You can only get the centennial badge here at WWII, but you can get the regular badge at any memorial.
Visitor: Thank you, we’ll be back!
*About 2 minutes later, she comes back*
Visitor: I’m sorry, but my kids deliberated and they decided they both want the centennial book. We haven’t written on the other worksheets yet.
Me: Your kids deliberated? (Remember, they are 6 and 4.)
Visitor: They did. Is that strange?
Me: Not at all.
Australian visitor walks up to the window: G’day!
Me: You totally just made my day.
Visitor: I did?
Me: You did.
Visitor: That’s not the first time I’ve heard that.
I love the WWII Memorial, but if I could change one thing about it, I would do everything possible to ensure the Texas pillar was not right next to either of the arches. The pillars next to the arches are hard to see at times. And people from Texas are fanatical about Texas. Or anything shaped like Texas. Or anything with the Texas flag on it. Or anything that says Texas. And the idea, however mistaken, that Texas has been slighted sets them off.
Visitor: Why isn’t there a Texas pillar?
Me: There is a Texas pillar.
Visitor: I didn’t see it.
Me: It can be hard to see sometimes, it is right next to the Atlantic pillar, to the left if you’re facing out of the Memorial.
Visitor: Well then it’s on the wrong side.
Me: The wrong side?
Visitor: Yes, Texas is not on the Atlantic.
Me: That’s not what the pillars mean. The states are arranged in the order they entered the union, back and forth across the memorial. It has nothing to do with the Atlantic or Pacific arches.
Visitor: It should be on the other side.
Visitor: Why is the Philippines on the Memorial?
Me: The pillars are based on states and territories at the time of WWII, and the Philippines was a US territory starting in 1898 after the Spanish/American War through 1946.
Visitor: No, it wasn’t.
Me: I promise you, it was.
Visitor: Well why it is on there if it stopped being a territory in 1946?
Me: Because it is based on the states and territories at the time of WWII, which for the US was 1941-1945. There were 48 states and 8 territories, including Alaska, Hawaii, and DC. So there are 56 pillars.
Visitor: I don’t think that’s right.
*Helicopter flies overhead*
Visitor, excited: Oooh, that must have been someone very important to fly over here in a helicopter!
Me: Actually that was the Park Police helicopter, they fly over every now and then to check on things, or sometimes to make sure the skies are clear if Marine One needs to land.
Visitor: Well, you just burst my bubble!
Me: Sorry, but if you hang around for a few minutes, you may see Marine One heading to the White House.
Visitor: Too late, you’ve ruined it.
*Literally minutes after she walked away, Marine One flew by. And then a pair of them came by to meet up with the third a little while later.*
Visitor to Ranger at the window while I was eating lunch: How do I get back to Maryland?
Ranger: You are in Maryland.
Visitor: Oh, so I’ve left the District of Columbia?
Ragner: DC is in Maryland.
Me, silently while eating my lunch:
Visitor: Ooooh look, the White House! (Pointing to the Capitol)
Me: That’s the Capitol. You can’t actually see the White House from here.
Visitor: No, that’s the White House. The dome is the White House.
Visitor: So, this Washington Memorial…
Me: The Washington Monument?
Visitor: Yes, the Washington Memorial. Is it for George Washington, or Washington, DC?
Me: It’s for George Washington, but as a military leader, not as President.
Visitor: Are you sure? Because I thought it was for the city.
Me: I am sure.
Visitor: I’m going to ask someone else.
Me: OK, have fun with that.
British woman: Where can we get a spot of tea around here?
Me: Well, you said you wanted to go down to the Korean War Memorial. Across the street from there is a food kiosk that sells tea.
British man: Perfect! We Brits must have our tea, you know! None of that coffee!
Me: I agree, I don’t like coffee but I do love tea.
British woman: Well, you could be British then!