Take Your Pick
Arlington, VA
Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers
Arlington National Cemetery - The hundreds of thousands of simple white headstones standing at eternal attention are the markers of the American servicemen killed defending our country. Soldiers from the American Revolution and Civil War through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan grace these hills. Visiting the cemetery is both touching and sobering. On the premises is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers with the ceremonial changing of the guards every hour; President JFK and Jacqueline Kennedy's graves (as well as Robert Kennedy and John Jr's); a Memorial Amphitheater which hosts funerals and ceremonies; and Confederate General Robert E Lee's Arlington House.
Arlington, VA
Iwo Jima Memorial
Marine Corps War Memorial - On February 24, 1945, US Marines took back the island of Iwo Jima from the Japanese by over-powering them on Mt Suribachi. That afternoon five Marines and a Navy Corpsman (Sgt M Strank, Cpl H Block, PFC F Sousley, PFC R Gagnon, PFC I Hayes, and Ph2 J Bradley) raised the American flag on the island. The moment was captured on film by news photographer Joe Rosenthal and later cast in bronze by sculptor Felix W. de Weldon. The Marine Corps War Memorial (also known as the Iwo Jima Memorial) is dedicated to US Marines who have died in defense of their country.
Arlington, VA
Benches of the Pentagon Memorial
Pentagon Memorial - The Pentagon Memorial is dedicated to the 184 lives that were lost on September 11, 2001 when terrorists hijacked American Airlines flight 77 and crashed it into the Pentagon. 59 people were passengers aboard the flight and 125 were working in the Pentagon. The memorial was dedicated on September 11, 2008 and contains 184 benches which are illuminated from an underground pool of water and light. Each bench has the name of a person who died and they are arranged from the youngest to the oldest victim (3 to 71 years-old).
National Harbor, MD
Awakening with Sock Monkey Breath
The Awakening - Created by J Seward Johnson Jr., "The Awakening" is an 80 foot aluminum sculpture of a giant struggling to wake from his earthen tomb. Brilliantly constructed using five separate pieces (two arms, two legs and a head) it is a huge tourist draw and offers some fun photo opportunities. Although it is no longer truly in Washington DC, it was there for 27 years (moved in 2008) and is currently only about a mile out of the district in Maryland at the National Harbor. As long as you're at the National Harbor, you might as well try one the fine restaurants with their great views.
Washington, DC
Lincoln Assassination
Ford's Theater - While attending a performance of "Our American Cousin" at Ford's Theater on April 14th, 1865 President Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. Booth, a supporter of the Confederacy, had heard of Robert E Lee's surrender on April 9th and decided that something had to be done to save the south. Around 10:15 PM he made his way up to the State Box and using a Derringer pistol, shot the President in the back of the head. The President had dreamt of his death just three days prior to his assassination. Ford's Theater today after a major renovation, reopened in February 2009, and is currently a working theater and museum. Across the street is the Petersen House where the President was taken and died a few hours after he was shot.
Washington, DC
Our Nation's Capitol
United States Capitol Building - The United States Capitol Building sits in the center of Washington DC and divides the district into four quadrants. Although not completed until 1826, the first meeting of Congress was held in 1800 in the unfinished structure. The Capitol was originally designed by William Thornton and is the model for nearly every state capitol building since. Walking around you will find the bronze Columbus Doors, statues in the Hall of Columns, the Old Senate Chambers, and under the dome geographical center of Washington.
Washington, DC
A Night (or Day) at the Museum
Smithsonian Institution - The museums that make up the Smithsonian Institution in DC completely surround the National Mall. The two must sees are; the Museum of Natural History with over 1.5 million square feet of space and 120 million specimens ranging from lady bugs to dinosaurs (this is the museum that came to life in the film "A Night at the Museum"); and the Air and Space Museum which contains the world's largest collection of air and spacecraft and displays the original "Spirit of St Louis", the Space Shuttle Enterprise, the Enola Gay, and Apollo 11 capsule in its two area locations. If you still have the time, they have more museums. There is the American Art Museum Portrait Gallery, the Hirshorn Museum, the African Art Museum and Postal Museum to name a few.
Washington, DC
Monkey Eye View of the Monument
Washington Monument - The centerpiece of the National Mall is the Washington Monument which towers just over 555 feet tall and is dedicated to our nation's first President and one of our founding fathers, George Washington. The white marble obelisk was completed in 1884; a full 26 year after construction began. See if your monkey eyes can notice the different color shades on the monument where construction was halted for a time. A free ticket is required to access the monument (I would have paid money) and the view from the top is fantastic.
Washington, DC
FBI Headquarters - No, not the Female Body Inspectors, this is the real thing - the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Founded in 1908 and headed by J Edgar Hoover (1895-1972) for 48 years, the Bureau has grown from a handful of agents at its inception to just over 30,000 agents today. Gone are the days of chasing gangsters with Tommy Guns, these days agents are more likely to be investigating cyber-crimes and conducting counter-terrorism activities behind a monitor. Of course if you rob a bank (a federal crime), it is the FBI who will be knocking on your door.
Washington, DC
Hall of Remembrance Eternal Flame
Holocaust Memorial Museum - The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum opened on April 22, 1993 with a goal of inspiring "citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, promote human dignity, and prevent genocide". It accomplishes its goal using thousands of photographs, artifacts, and testimonials included in its permanent and traveling exhibitions. Attending the museum is a powerful and emotional experience which forces us to confront the evils perpetrated by man upon man. Elie Wiesel wrote, "For the dead and the living, we must bear witness." Over two million visitors attend the memorial every year and bear witness so this never happens again.
Washington, DC
Me and President Lincoln
Lincoln Memorial - The Lincoln Memorial is a Socko favorite among the Washington DC monuments. Located on the west end of the National Mall the memorial was built to honor our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln. The structure was designed in a Greek revival style which is surrounded by 38 fluted columns and contains a 19 foot high statue of Lincoln. It's situated at the far end of the large reflecting pool and has been a gathering point for many political rallies. The most famous of these gatherings was by Martin Luther King when he gave his "I have a dream speech".
Washington, DC
Housing the Nation's Important Documents
National Archives - On public display inside the rotunda of the National Archives are the three most important documents of United States of America; the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Standing in front of these original documents directly connects visitors with the founding fathers. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) also stores military and immigration records along with acts of Congress and executive orders.
Washington, DC
DC's Number One Attraction
The White House - George Washington signed the legislation, helped choose the site and over-saw construction of what we now know as The White House. Although Washington never lived in the White House, every President since him has called it home. Completed in 1800 the Executive Mansion at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave was designed by Irish-born architect James Hoban. The Georgian style home has 6 stories, 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms and probably a few secret rooms and tunnels. The most popular rooms are the Oval Office in the West Wing, the Lincoln Bedroom and the Red Room. The White House is one of the most popular attractions in DC with nearly 2 million people visiting annually.