Random Thoughts

I just got back from Washington DC.  I had never been there before.  In fact, as far as America goes, I had never been more than about two day’s  drive east of California.  So previously some part of Wyoming or Colorado was the farthest east I had ever been.

I went there for work so I didn’t really have much time for sight-seeing.  I did take a walk down to the National Mall after work with a friend of mine.  I didn’t include pictures in this post because the ones I take weren’t very good and anyway you know what the monuments look like.

My main goal was to visit the Lincoln Memorial, since I wanted to pay my respects to one of our greatest presidents.  People told me it was better at night.  I’m not sure if that’s true since that’s the only way I’ve seen it, but it was impressive.  A nice tribute to the man who saved our nation.

I also walked through the WWII Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial and the Korean War Memorial as well.  The WWII Memorial I wasn’t so big on.  It’s nice that there is one, but visually, I don’t know what it’s supposed to convey.  Maybe that’s how it should be.  I personally only know (knew) two men who were a part of WWII.

My grandfather experienced it as mostly a fun vacation in the South Pacific- he was a 17 year old airplane mechanic and never saw any fighting.  And at the time it was probably better than hanging around Los Angeles.  He’s still alive today and loves to talk about it.

My wife’s grandfather, on the other hand, was a medic in the Japanese Army that invaded China.  He spent his whole life in a small Japanese village in a house built by his father that until recently didn’t even have flush toilets.  He liked to talk about how he saw a river there that was so big that he couldn’t see the other side.  He didn’t talk to me much about all the suffering and death he saw as a medic, but before he died my wife recorded him talking about his various experiences there.  It was terrifying and sad.

My other grandfather also fought it in the war (in Europe), but died before I was born.  My wife’s other grandfather just barely missed becoming a kamkaze pilot- at that point in the war they were just throwing young men into planes and pointing them towards certain death.

But on the other hand- we beat the Nazis.  So that kind of makes it worth it.

The Vietnam Memorial was really heartbreaking.  Descending into the memorial, with the wall getting taller and the names piling up it was overwhelming.  What a waste of life.

Same with the Korean War.  We hardly even talk about it or learn about it in school, but America lost over 36,000 soldiers.  The total cost in lives was well over a million.  For what?  A proxy war between the US and China, with Mao flooding the Korean peninsula with troops, in part to shore up his position as ruler of China.  What a horrible thought to be so unconcerned about human life.

What was it all worth?  What was the point?

UPDATE- also, the Washington Monument is cool, but I don’t get how it represents the actual man.  I don’t know much about him, I’m just saying.



  1. When I was a kid, the best part of visiting DC (I had family down there) was the official FBI tour. They let you see the shooting and everything.

    I think Washington may really have been the father of his country.

    I’m not big on war or its memorials. The world has been at war pretty much continuously my entire life and doesn’t seem ready to give it up yet. Probably it never will.

    1. Washington’s stepping down after two terms was one of the most important things any president ever did. I just don’t get how an obelisk represents him. I can’t really think of how I would represent him, it just doesn’t seem fitting to me. Not that it’s a bad monument.

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