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Susan Tobias lives in Plattsburgh with her husband, Toby. She has been associated with the Press-Republican since 1977. The Tobiases have six children, 18 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. They enjoy traveling to Maine and Colorado, and in her spare time, Susan loves to research local history and genealogy. Reach her by email at mcgibby57@charter.net. Reach her by e-mail at: writertobias@gmail.com

I spent a hot Saturday afternoon recently walking around Washington, D.C., like a wide-eyed kid in a toy store at Christmastime.

I had never been to our nation's capital before, and I wasn't prepared for how awesomely wonderful it is.

There as a delegate to the national Daughters of the American Revolution convention, I spent most of my time in business meetings and at evening gala events, but I persuaded myself to play hooky one afternoon.

My partner in crime was a new friend named Maxine. It had been 101 degrees and had finally come down to a "cool" 94. My first glimpse of the White House, after a walk of about six blocks, was breathtaking.

I was surprised to see how close it is to other buildings and Lafayette Park, even though the street in front of the White House is blocked off to traffic. Our eyes sure did pop when we saw snipers on the roof.

Next, we hiked to the Washington Monument, passing the World War I monument on the way. Time for a break and a cold drink. After a brief "Where are we now?" with the map, we headed toward the World War II monument.

The only word I can use for this memorial is amazing -- white marble columns, fountains, gold star Freedom Wall. The monument's website states it best: "The memorial honors the 16 million who served in the armed forces of the U.S. during World War II, the more than 400,000 who died, and the millions who supported the war effort from home … (The memorial is) an important symbol of American national unity, a timeless reminder of the moral strength and awesome power that can flow when a free people are at once united and bonded together in a common and just cause."

My father's name is included among those 16 million names. Those in his generation are in their 80s and 90s now. Pretty soon, there won't be one World War II vet alive to share the story of leaving American farms and businesses and to fight a war that we didn't ask for.

AMERICA'S HERITAGE

We hiked about three blocks to the Korean War Memorial. Ghostly gray figures, formed in a "V" as though on patrol, gave me chills, like one was going to talk to me at any moment. Alongside them was a wreath with U.S. and South Korean flags and a note that says: "We remember you forever. The People of the Republic of Korea."

On to the Lincoln Memorial. I had been waiting most of my life to walk up those steps. Impressive as impressive can be! As we left, I paused a moment to gaze at the sight of the Reflecting Pool, the World War II monument and the Washington Monument, all in a line before me.

Our last monument was the Vietnam Veterans black memorial wall. No words can describe how one feels when reading that 58,000 soldiers lost their lives fighting that war. Just touching the names on the wall brought tears to my eyes. Many stopped, in silence, to read the names and ponder the loss.

Needless to say, we took a few breaks and quenched our thirst along the way and eventually headed back to our hotel. What a whirlwind afternoon it was, one that has left me with more curiosity to go back to D.C. and spend a week exploring the Smithsonian, the White House Visitors Center, Union Station, the Supreme Court, Capitol Building, Arlington Cemetery… May I suggest you consider doing the same if you haven't already? This is America's heritage and it's free.

One last thought, please be kind to each other. The world needs more kindness.

Susan Tobias lives in Plattsburgh with her husband, Toby. She has been a Press-Republican newsroom employee since 1977. The Tobiases have six children, 18 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. They enjoy traveling to Maine and Colorado, and in her spare time, Susan loves to research local history and genealogy. Reach her by e-mail at writertobias@gmail.com.

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