A few years ago I was invited to my friend’s daughter’s wedding in DC on New Year’s Eve. Normally I am not one to enjoy big cities or seek them out for vacation, unless it is overseas and has mysterious or exotic sites to explore. I planned to make this trip to DC, and since my husband could not attend I called my good friend from law school, Jenny, who was also invited. We decided to go together, share a hotel room, and go out early to see the sites of Washington.
In all of our travels I had never been to Washington D.C. before, but I had studied history in college and really liked American history, so I knew that I would enjoy all of the museums.
We booked our hotel and flight and off we went. We only had an extra couple of days before the wedding, so we really had to pick and chose between the great sites to visit. The one thing I learned is that we do have to go back. There is so much I did not see, especially one of the main places, The White House. I have wanted to see that for a long time, but it was closed to tours during the holidays. Jenny wanted to see the Holocaust museum, and we both wanted to see the Supreme Court since we are both lawyers.
One thing I am proud of is that I am admitted to argue before the United States Supreme Court. I have the certificate on my wall to prove it, and it is an impressive certificate they give out for the Supreme Court. I have never been there to argue a case and the chances are nil that I ever will. There are a very few lawyers that argue before the Supreme Court. It is a very small specialized circle. However, for a small fee and by filling out an application and putting in a few affidavits that I am licensed to practice law and I am of good moral character, I was admitted and got that large certificate to display on my office wall. That certificate is exactly why I did it even though I knew I had no chance in hell of ever arguing before the Supreme Court of the United States. You only live once. Actually a few years later, I did argue before the Minnesota Supreme court, which was awesome and does not happen often to most attorneys here in Minnesota. I won too, so that is a source of pride for me.
We planned ahead and made the most of our time. We did not have a car so we walked a lot, used the buses, and we got to know the train schedule really well. Our first stop was Arlington Cemetery on the day we got to D.C. This was a somber reminder of all of the lives cut short to defend our country. The stones go on and on over the hills placed so perfectly to create the perfect rows like soldiers still standing at attention and in formation. However the most impressive are the guards protecting the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. They are so precise and so exacting in their movements and the ceremony is somber and respectful. Many people stand around to watch, but everyone is quiet and it is frowned upon to do any talking while watching the ceremony. People move in and out of the area walking lightly and observing and silently contemplating the overwhelming respect for the location and what it signifies.
We spent an entire day on the National Mall area. Jenny wanted to visit the Holocaust museum. It was such a popular spot so we made sure we were in line before it opened to ensure we could view it and also see other sites. It was haunting and disturbing, but a great reminder how horrible people can be to each other sometimes. I wanted to visit to pay my respects, but it was hard to look at the faces of the people, especially the children that were lost to such atrocities.
I was very excited to find out that many of the museums were free in Washington. In this day and age there is usually an entrance fee to everything, so I was elated to find out this was a very inexpensive trip. We moved from museum to museum seeing our favorites, such as Lincoln’s hat, the first Lady’s gowns, the largest giant squid ever caught and preserved, and dinosaurs and so many other historical artifacts. We moved from place to place talking about the artifacts and about family, life, careers and our worries, hopes and dreams. Time spent with good friends is time well spent.
I have to say my favorite visit was to see the Constitution. However, Jenny and I were almost taken into custody when I entered the building while on my cell phone. While there is no admittance charge for such a location, they do have heavy security and I did not see the signs as I walked into the building, talking with my husband on the phone, that talking on a cell phone is prohibited. It was a quick call, but obviously not quick enough. As we entered the guards started yelling for me to get off of my phone. It took a second for me to realize they were talking to me, but once I realized these armed guards were talking and yelling at me, I shut that thing down and almost dropped it like a hot potato. Luckily, I am of an age where I do not look like much of a threat, so they did not actually draw their weapons, but that phone flew into my pocket and I promptly apologized. I think Jenny was ready to kill me, but later we had a good laugh about it. The Constitution was amazing. I have seen pictures, but as I always say pictures do not do justice to most amazing things one sees in their travels.
My favorite place as an attorney was to visit the Supreme Court. The building is lovely with daunting steps to climb to the front door, like one is ascending mount Olympus and the large Greek columns are set to be majestic and intimidating. The doors are over sized and many times larger than needed. This building was built and is meant to show power and exude respect from those entering, yet it is a court of the people and so they have tried to ensure full access for all who wish to visit. This is the Supreme Court of the land and as a lawyer it meant something to stand in its halls and on its intimidating steps.
Jenny took a picture of me on the front steps of the Supreme Court building looking towards the Capital. It is a cherished picture I keep in my office as a reminder that I visited one of the coolest places in the United States for an attorney to visit and I did it with one of my best friends from law school. Jenny was one of the first people I met in Law school and we were in the same study group. We helped each other through school and have remained friends throughout our careers. That was almost thirty years ago, so to stay friends that long and to travel together to see the highest court in the land was an experience I will treasure forever.
Washington D.C in the winter was amazing, but being able to see it and especially visiting the Supreme Court with one of my best lawyer buddies in the world, made it an extra special event for my memory treasure chest.