For me though there were a few true high points in the trip - and an unexpected figure who seemed to turn up in a number of places.
The unexpected figure, is none other than Albert Einstein, a particular idol of my eldest daughter, and a man who had more influence over the course of history than many might ever realize.
We planned to seek out the great statue of Einstein at the memorial at the National Academy of Sciences, which we did. The statue is impressive.
It says:“The things I saw beggar description…The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering…I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in a position to give first hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations to propaganda.”
As I toured the museum, and was reminded of the Nazi propaganda of the 1930's and 40's blaming the Jews for all the ills of the world, I was saddened as I realized the parallels forming today with a group of from the far right, and the agenda they pursue against Homosexuals. its a slippery slope people. The ride from disapproval, to hate, to persecution is shorter than you might imagine. History teaches us this. We need not repeat history if we have the wisdom to learn from it. When the cost of the lesson was in excess of 6 million innocent lives, we had better learn. Its not enough to believe we are better than we were a century ago: we must actually BE better than we were a century ago.
I know I must return to this museum again someday, and experience it again with my wife. This trip we split up, each with one of the kids in tow, teaching them what we could, and shielding them from what we had to. At 10 and 7, some of the sites are a bit much. At 42 some of the sites are a bit much - but those who perished and endured those horrors have certainly earned my tears.
As the week drew to a close, we saw more of the city. Another touching experience as we visited the National Archives, and saw the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. Old and barely legible after almost two and a half centuries, the power of these documents have not diminished. No treasure maps on the back of the Declaration, but plenty of jokes about that fun movie.
The profound wisdom of our Constitution followed us through the city, and later in the week at the Jefferson Memorial I was reminded of the answer to many of the challenges we face today, and how so many politicians point to the Founding Fathers for their intentions and answers. Jefferson has the answers you seek:
To Boldly Go forward into the future, we must embrace and learn from our past. It was wonderful to spend the last week doing just that. The past lends perspective. I'll close out this post, with some profound words I found outside the National Archive:
WHAT IS PAST IS PROLOGUE
Lets turn our attention to the future - lets Boldly Go!