• Thu. May 30th, 2024

A VISIT TO THE U.S. CAPITAL BRINGS ECHOES OF THE PAST WITH PULSE OF THE PRESENT

ByGeorge Bao

Apr 28, 2024

LOS ANGELES — In the heart of spring, beneath the canopy of cherry blossoms, our journey to Washington, DC began. Rosa and I, accompanied by our daughter Helen and our grandson Julien, embarked on an adventure that would blend the echoes of the past with the vibrant pulse of the present.

As we soared from LA to DC, excitement crackled in the air. For me, returning to the city where I once toiled as a journalist held a special significance. Memories flooded back, of days spent chasing stories through the corridors of power, armed with a press pass that granted access to the inner sanctums of the White House and the U.S. Congress.

Rosa was also excited for the trip because she would have a chance to visit Trinity College where she got her master’s degree in 1988.

But this trip was about more than nostalgia; it was about sharing the wonders of Washington, DC with Julien, our seven-year old eager first-grade explorer. From the moment we touched down on April 1, every step we took was guided by the desire to ignite his curiosity and foster his understanding of the world around him.

On April 2, as Helen and Julien joined us from New York, our family unit felt complete. Together, we set out to uncover the treasures of the U.S. capital, with me proudly donning the hat of tourist guide for my grandson.

Our itinerary was ambitious, a whirlwind tour of iconic landmarks and cultural gems. We stood in awe before the White House, its stately facade a testament to the power and history contained within. Though we could only admire it from the outside, the sight was enough to spark Julien’s imagination.

In front of the White House across the Pennsylvania Avenue, we saw some protestors, and a street dancer who was attracting the visitors to dance with him. The major change I found was that Pennsylvania Avenue is no longer an avenue where we could drive through 40 years ago. It has actually become part of the Lafayette Square.

Looking through the metal fence, I could see the beauty of the White House where the U.S. president lives, and that also reminds me of the days from 1984 to 1988 when I had a White House press pass to cover the daily news briefings and news conferences. I attended several press conferences held by President Ronald Reagan, who was from California.

Next, we ascended Capitol Hill, where I had once roamed as a journalist. The halls of Congress echoed with the voices of lawmakers past and present, and Julien’s eyes widened as he took it all in. Together, we explored the Library of Congress, its vast collection a treasure trove of knowledge spanning centuries.

Our journey through DC was a tapestry woven from history, art, and exploration. We wandered through the hallowed halls of the Museum of History and the National Gallery of Art, each exhibits a window into the rich tapestry of American culture.

But perhaps the most poignant moment came as we stood before the Lincoln Memorial, the Great Emancipator towering above us in stone. As I explained Lincoln’s legacy to Julien, I felt a profound sense of connection, bridging the gap between past and present, between generations. Helen also asked Julien to read what is written behind the stature of Lincoln: IN THIS TEMPLE AS IN THE HEARTS OF THE PEOPLE FOR WHOM HE SAVED THE UNION THE MEMORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN IS ENSHRINED FOREVER.

Standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, we can see the Washington Monument and Capitol Hill behind the monument through the reflecting pool.

The hotel where we stayed was close to Chinatown. While walking through the streets of Chinatown, I could feel the changes in the past 40 years. When I was in DC, Chinatown had only a few shops run by Chinese Americans, but now there are more Chinese restaurants and businesses run by Chinese Americans. The streets look much cleaner than before.

Our adventure was not without its challenges; we were unable to secure a reservation for the Air and Space Museum, much to Julien’s disappointment. But even in disappointment, there was a lesson to be learned: that sometimes, even the best-laid plans can go awry, and it’s how we adapt that truly matters. But the disappointment would serve as a new hope that we would visit the U.S. capital next time to make up for the loss.

As our time in Washington, DC drew to a close, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of gratitude. Gratitude for the opportunity to share this experience with my grandson, to impart upon him a glimpse of the world beyond his classroom walls. And as we boarded the plane back to LA on April 6, I knew that this trip would be etched into Julien’s memory for years to come, a testament to the power of exploration, curiosity, and family.

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