For You the Flag is Flung

O Captain! My Captain!

Walt Whitman

O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
    But O heart! heart! heart!          5
      O the bleeding drops of red,
        Where on the deck my Captain lies,
          Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;   10
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
    Here Captain! dear father!
      This arm beneath your head;
        It is some dream that on the deck,   15
          You’ve fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;   20
    Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
      But I, with mournful tread,
        Walk the deck my Captain lies,
          Fallen cold and dead.

While Flag Day was the main event of the last few weeks, it has hardly been the only event.  We were lucky enough to have some friends from Idaho fly in for the big day and then spend time touring our nation’s lovely capital city.

One of the great things about living in the DC area is hosting friends/family who have never been here before.  It is awesome to be with people on their first circuit of so many iconic places.  For those of us raised in the West, images of the Washington Monument lit by fireworks or the view of the White House from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial are ones that we encountered year after year in our history books, but remain two dimensional until the opportunity to cross the country arrives.  Those photographs were always compelling, but there really isn’t anything like seeing those same places in person.  Having people in town and experiencing those sites with them for the first time is a great reminder of just how tremendous it is to live here.

The weekend after Flag Day was the first time we have had a chance to get out of town, so we rented a car and headed out for short adventure.  That Saturday we filled with a self-guided car tour of Gettysburg.  I am not sure the guys all realized that it was sixteen stops long!  It really was a full-day activity, but the park area is set up so that the visitors can go through it in chronological order of that terrible three day battle.  After information overload from each of the stops, we ended our tour at the Gettysburg Cemetery where Lincoln gave his famous ten-sentence Gettysburg Address.  Sunday saw us visiting the homes of both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.  It was incredible to see the massive undertaking these estates are and image the work that must have gone into creating them hundreds of years ago.  I especially liked the beds that Jefferson built into the walls of the home to save space!  They looked like fabulous places to curl up with a great book or two.

Flag Day wasn’t the end of Thad’s A-100 training, so while he went back to work on Monday, I continued to sightsee around town.  We hit the requisite Smithsonian Museums, (had a great fry bread lunch at the Native Americans Museum) , walked the monuments and took tours of the National Archives (who knew butter was a food group at one point?), the Bureau of Engraving (no free samples) and the Library of Congress.

As another week came to an end, so did Thad’s A-100 class.  Friday July 1 was the last day of orientation and in the afternoon the official swearing in ceremony was held at Main State.  He, along with his 93 classmates, to their oath and became official diplomats in the Foreign Service.  It was a nicely put together ceremony, formal enough to convey the importance of the job, but not filled with never-ending speakers.

With time running out for our Idaho guests, it was time to celebrate Independence Day.  Sadly, I didn’t plan ahead enough to get Idaho Spuds shipped in from back home, but I think the Idahoans may have been the only ones in our group who would have enjoyed them anyway!  We were lucky enough to be able to meet up with several China RPCVs and watch the fireworks as they lit up the night sky over the Washington Monument.  (No longer is it just something from my history books!)

The past weeks have been filled with exciting milestones in Thad’s career and visits to amazing historical sights with friends from home.  As A-100 wraps up and Chinese lessons begin, Thad will be kept busy with studies and I will continue to explore Washington on my own!

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*Me at Mt. Vernon

*Thad and me after the official Swear-In ceremony (He’s official folks!)

*Jeremy, me, Thad and Jess at the Swear-In ceremony

*Enjoying the fireworks on the National Mall with friends

*4th of July fireworks at the Washington Monument