An online journal of Mannie Gentile, a National Park Service Park Ranger working on the National Mall in our nation's capital.
DISCLAIMER: please note that this blog represents only my views and not those of the National Park Service.
Feel free to email me at: email@example.com
Friday, October 03, 2014
Ranger Mannie goes to Washington (part 2)
End of Training (whew!)
Its has been quite a couple of weeks. The five of us new park guides spent a whirlwind of activity learning about and walking the National Mall and surrounding museums, federal buildings, and other attractions which we will have to be familiar with in order to serve visitors to the National Mall and Memorial Parks.
Monday morning found us in a van crossing the Arlington bridge to visit Arlington House and the National Cemetery.
Although it was Robert E. Lee's wife who owned the house it was Lee himself who was the master of the estate, including numerous enslaved African-Americans. It was in this house, April 20, 1861, that Lee wrote his letter of resignation from the US Army to take his side with the Confederacy.
Union soldiers occupied the grounds shortly after Lee's departure.
The view from that substantial portico is incredible:
WAMO towers over all and will be my "office" two days a week.
While we were in the vicinity we visited the Marine Corps Memorial. The memorial is a testament to the service of the men and women of the Marine Corps since its founding in 1775 and, like Arlington House, it is administered by the National Park Service
One of those Marines it honors is our own Natalie. Of the five of us, four are veterans -
Navy, Marine Corps, and Army.
The monument is based upon the photograph of Pulitzer-prize winning photographer...
who receives a credit on the pedestal of the monument.
We visited the tomb of the unknowns...
and found ourselves in the company of many WWII veterans.
It is a reminder of how quickly these men and women are leaving us.
We encountered the tomb of Abraham Lincoln's oldest son, Robert.
Headstones of more than 400,000 individuals cover 612 acres in a tangible reminder of
service and sacrifice.
This week we also visited the Library of Congress, you will be hard pressed to find a more magnificent building in our nation's capitol.
The reading room is spectacular.
We also visited some of the museums of the Smithsonian Institution. Here we are with Ted our trainer. Note that I managed to get myself into the picture.
(me, Natalie, Bob, Ted, Lee, Mary)
Lunch at the National Museum of the American Indian was pretty fantastic. Lee was our able guide as he is a former employee of the museum. Lee also seems to know a lot of insiders in
the District of Columbia.
This week we also visited the National Archives for a visit to the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence.
Ted got us tickets for a tour of the Capitol Building, which was really cool. Note the scaffolding surrounding the dome which is undergoing restoration work.
Our tour guide did a great job, and was very patient and good-humored - a role model
for the five of us.
It is a building of gorgeous detail.
Looking up at the rotunda found the view obscured by a big canvass donut that is part of the restoration process. Nonetheless, it was still very cool.
George Washington is at the apex of the dome.
They have four tours going simultaneously, and still manage to avoid traffic jams.
Our trainer Kristel points out some of the NPS green space in front of the Capitol
At the foot of the Capitol steps is one of my favorite monuments anywhere.
Its inscription consists of just one word...
Need anyone say more?
We also paid a visit to the Supreme Court building.
Again, its a place of beautiful detail. We attended a really good interpretive talk which was held right in the chamber itself. It was very cool to be sitting in the same room where so many historic cases have been heard.
Ranger Rob Lorenz gave us a fantastic Lincoln Monument program...
and then led us in a discussion about the fine points of interpretation on the back portico of the Monument.
It has been a very busy two weeks of nine-hour days, mostly on our feet the whole time. At the end
we are all confident and ready to start rangering on the Mall as good friends and comrades in the
green and gray.
I'm eager to get started and I relish this opportunity to help bring our history to life for the millions of visitors who come yearly to the National Mall and Memorial Parks. And through it all I'll still be thinking of my eventual return to Antietam.