Monday, November 13, 2006

DC: Day 1

Since we had a four day weekend for Veterans Day this weekend, a few of us went out Thursday to celebrate with karaoke. I had fun, although I probably shouldn't have stayed out as late as I did since I had to drive to DC the next morning (and hadn't packed yet). The foreign students also got rather drunk. The first time the Afghan student came out with my class he didn't drink at all; this time apparently he threw up on his way back to the hotel (the bar was conveniently located right across the street). So much for Americans not being a corrupting influence.

Originally three of us had planned on going to DC for the weekend, but N and his replacement both bailed on us, so it was just J and me. The first day we went to Arlington Cemetery and the Holocaust Museum. The Holocaust Museum was very well done, but I questioned the judgment of some parents. While we were waiting to get on the elevator to the exhibition, there was a seven or eight year old girl kneeling on the floor, saying that she was bored and wanted to go. It just seemed like maybe it wasn't the right time to take that child through an exhibit about the attempted genocide of the Jewish people (I wasn't only judging parents: I also thought the teenager that was popping her gum in the museum was rude and disrespectful). It wasn't so much the age that bothered me, just the fact that the girl clearly wasn't in the right mood to go through something like that (of course, I could be wrong; maybe once she was up there, she became more interested and calm). I was probably about 8 or 9 when I first became aware of the Holocaust and what had actually happened. My parents took me to Dachau while we were on a visit to Munich, and I was very strongly affected. Afterwards, I started reading a lot of novels and books related to the Holocaust. I grew up in Germany and the Holocaust has definitely remained a part of the public conscience, so it is easy to find information about it. I know that in Japan, for example, there have still been issues in the recent past with Japan's approach to things such as the Rape of Nanjing but Germany is very good at acknowledging its dark history. As a result, I already knew most of the things that the exhibition discussed but I liked some of the more personalized details as well as the quotes, including the famous Heinrich Heine quote: "Where they burn books, they will, in the end, burn human beings too."

Afterwards, we tried to walk by the White House but the front was blocked off, so we only saw it from the back - and honestly, the Eisenhower Executive Offices were much more impressive looking than the actual White House.

Arlington Cemetery

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