Tuesday 28 August 2012

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Things to Know Before Taking Your Kids to D.C.

When it comes to a vacation, I like to do my homework. I check hotel rates and reviews, go over infinite airline routing possibilities, and familiarize myself with as many local attractions as I can at our chosen destination. When I leave home to start a trip, I usually feel like I'm headed to a place that I know fairly well, even if I've never been there before.

I can't, however, prepare for everything. In particular, as a parent, I'm never going to have all the answers for the questions that my kids have when we're traveling. Most of the time I can get away with the time honored response of "Go ask your mother", but when push comes to shove and I have to give an answer, I do what all Dads do in moments of desperation....I guess.

Turns out though, that I'm a lousy guesser, so in the interest of helping out my fellow parents, I'm going to give you some of the questions that were asked of me on our recent trip to Washington, D.C., and the proper answers. You might not need this if you're better at faking answers than me, but hopefully it will help somebody out.


The question: "Hey Dad, this looks familiar. Where have I seen it before?"

The real answer: So many places. The Lincoln Memorial is depicted on the back of both the American five dollar bill and the penny. It was the sight of the Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech and, if you were paying attention, it was featured prominently in the "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln" attraction at Disneyland.

The answer I gave: Apparently, this isn't where they filmed Rocky, and running to the top of the stairs and jumping up and down with your arms raised will earn you nothing but looks of consternation and mumbles of "That's Philadelphia you moron".


The question: "Why do the bricks change color half way up the memorial?"

The real answer: The monument began construction in 1848, but experienced a delay in construction from 1854 to 1877. That 23 year gap is blamed for the different shades of the marble used to finish the tower, which was completed in 1884.

The answer I gave: In my defense, I was totally guessing on this one. Still, I probably could have come up with something better than "That's how high the hose reaches when they spray it off".


The question: "How did the Wright Brothers Flyer end up here?"

The real answer: While the Wright Brothers wanted to donate their flyer to the Smithsonian early on, the secretary of the Smithsonian at the time chose to recognize a different flight as the first powered, controlled flight of an aircraft. Eventually the disagreement was sorted out, and in 1948 the Wright Brothers Flyer made it's way to the Smithsonian.

The answer I gave: I kind of knew that this wasn't where they landed, but it seemed like such an easy way to put a stop to the questions.


The question: "Why does somebody have to carry a flag instead of a sword?"

The real answer: Unit flags were used to allow commanders to see where their troops were and what kind of progress they were making. 

The answer I gave: "Flags are longer than swords, so you could hit people from further away". Seriously, if any of my kids pass History, it'll be a miracle.

Written by Steve Pratt