Although it was nothing like I had expected, celebrating America’s 241st birthday in Washington D.C. was a truly a unique and beautiful experience. Having never celebrated July 4th in D.C., many of us had no idea where to go or how to get there, but we all wanted to experience as much as we could. We decided on watching the “A Capital Fourth” concert and fireworks show at the national mall. After navigating our walk through the road closures and police barricades, we finally arrived at the national mall where we picked our spot on the lawn to settle down for the next few hours.
Amongst the thousands of other families all sprawled out across the lawn there was us: a group of good friends having the time of their life while chilling out on a picnic blanket eating street BBQ and sipping lemonade. Although we ended up being too far to see the concert, we had a blast with our own music and just enjoying July 4th the best way we know how. To our surprise, we ended up being in the best possible place to see the most beautiful fireworks display I have ever seen. Something about the fireworks rising from behind the Washington Monument is truly and indescribably breathtaking and we had the perfect view.
Honestly, I had no idea how the day would go about, but I knew I wanted to experience as much as I could, which we did! I could not believe the thousands of people who attended the capitol fourth: 200,000 people in total. In our six weeks of being here in D.C. we have never seen the metro station so crowded, which is why we ended up walking the five miles home. It was a truly great day filled with good friends, excellent food, and a beautiful celebration of America.
In addition to experiencing America’s 241st birthday, I also gained an important education on another aspect of history, more specifically the Holocaust. I spent over three and a half hours at the National Holocaust Museum here in D.C. on Wednesday, getting a first-hand understanding on the devastation inflicted on over six million innocent people. I had always wondered how citizens could have allowed for, pushed for, and even assisted in the senseless inhumane and despicable treatment or blatant murder of Jewish families (as well as Romani and the disabled), but the exhibits shed some important light. Although it was emotionally painful to read through the exhibits and view the numerous films, it was an education that I personally believe we all need to fully understand (and learn from) how to prevent such genocide from ever occurring again. In my time at the museum I was only able to get through half of the exhibits, so I’ll be returning next week. I encourage everyone to visit sometime if you get a chance.