Every so often you hear about an item that is significant in our culture like Archie Bunker's easy chair being sent to the Smithsonian, to the American History Museum to be specific. When you hear the name: The American History Museum, you think about exhibits about our founding fathers, westward expansion into Indian lands, war, war, war. While the museum has many exhibits that cover these parts of our country's history, we found ourselves walking and laughing and walking and laughing as we passed one exhibit after another with showcases containing items from our youth or even more recent times. The passage of years gives a certain patina of respectability to items like a Howdy-Doody puppet or the tiny refrigerator I remember from my grandma's house. We have thrown away so many things that have found a place of honor here at the Smithsonian .
I especially enjoyed seeing the display of nearly all the inaugural ball gowns of our first ladies over the years. The American flag that was flying over a fort in Baltimore during the War of 1812 and inspired the creation of our national anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner was on display after having been lovingly restored over a five-year period. Large chunks of it had been cut out and given to souvenir seekers, but the fact that this fragile piece of cloth still exists was amazing.
When we take the subway from our campground to downtown, our subway stop is called Archives. Today we saw hundreds and hundreds of school children waiting to go inside the National Archives. When we returned to the area after walking through the history of our country and ourselves, the lines were gone and we went inside to view the original versions of the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Emancipation Proclamation. In the dim light that is trying to keep these precious items from further deterioration, the documents were hard to read, but seeing them was a thrill nevertheless.