#6 See the Cherry Blossoms in DC: DONE!

Day 1 of my 2-day travel weekend was a quick trip up to Washington, DC for the Cherry Blossom Festival. I was sort of under the impression that there were cherry trees kind of all over the Mall, but there weren’t. There were little stands of them kind of off to the sides.

I think we would have seen more had we really had time to walk down to the Potomac, but we mostly stayed on the Mall and around the White House.

Still, I had a reflective day. The cherry blossoms, of course, made me think of Japan, and the suffering they’re going through right now. Heard a story on NPR this morning talking about how Shintaro Ishihara, the mayor of Tokyo, has asked people not to picnic under the cherry blossoms this year due to the tragic loss of life in the earthquake and tsunami. A quote from the story:

[A man picnicking under the trees despite the mayor’s request] mentions hakanasa, one of several Japanese words to describe human sensitivity to the poignant fact that cherry blossoms, like life and beauty themselves, are short-lived, and that nature produces tsunamis as well as spring blossoms.

We also toured the memorials on the Mall, some I’d never seen before. The World War II memorial is recently completed (and huge):

The Korean War Memorial is relevant to my family as my grandfather served in Korea. Particularly touching, I thought, were the flowers from The People of the Republic of Korea with an inscription, “We remember you forever.”

And, of course, there was the Vietnam War Memorial, which always makes me a little misty.

I love DC, I think particularly because it makes me feel a part of something bigger– not just America, but humanity. When you look at the names on the Vietnam War Memorial, you see yourself reflected back in the polished granite. You are part of the same group as the men and women who died in war, and in natural disasters, and you share their pain– at the same time being so grateful for their sacrifice and for nature’s beauty.