A Capitol Fourth, part one

This was a fabulous weekend in D.C. A once-in-a-lifetime type of weekend, seeing as it was the nation’s birthday and I am in the nation’s capitol.

The whole weekend started off with class going to tour XM radio. Then, Friday night I went with Jennifer (see Oxford posts) to a free jazz night in the Smithsonian’s sculpture garden. It was really fun and she introduced me to two other Baylor students I didn’t know that are here for the summer. We went out to a great chicken place in Chinatown, then walked around the monuments as they were lit up against the dark night.

Saturday, I toured the American History Smithsonian. I know, I’m crazy, it was the day before Independence Day and very crowded. But you know, it wasn’t as bad as DisneyWorld on Thanksgiving or something like that. I have been to very crowded places, and while that qualified, it was not the worst I have seen.

It was special to get to see the First Lady’s dresses, Dorothy’s shoes, the flag and all of the other things i haven’t seen since I was here after sixth grade, almost ten years ago. Hard to believe it’s been that long, but it’s true.

After spending most of my day there, I went to the Air and Space museum. It was cool, but by that point I was a little museumed-out  so I had dinner at the McDonald’s there (it’s kind of a tradition, every time I have been to DC, I’ve eaten there and my family has this thing with eating at McDs in famous places)

After dinner, I headed over to the capitol because I had heard from a friend that there was a rehersal for the Capitol Fourth concert. I sat on the steps in front of a nice looking young woman and close to two couples.
I listened to the event people test the sound system for Gladys Knight (who, unfortunately, did not attend the rehersal, so they had a lip syncer to test the lighting and camera angles). They played "Grapevine" and "I will Survive."
Soon, David Archuleta (the real one, not just a recording) came up and sang the National Anthem. I called my sister so she could hear it. She loved it. 🙂
Jimmy Smits was the announcer. He made the night fun, even in the tedious, slow-moving parts. The National Orchestra played "God Bless the USA" and everyone sang along. It was magical.
Soon after, we are clapping along to Cohen’s "Yankee Doodle Dandy" with the Marine Corps Band.
David Archuleta was up next, with a dedication to the troops, singing "Stand By Me." He’s so great.
After David, the National Orchestra and Lang Lang, the famous Chinese pianist, played Rachmaninoff’s 15, the theme from "Somewhere in Time." I always have loved this piece, but I finally figured out that it is the base for another song by Lorie Line that I played non-stop in high school.

Throughout the night, I made a Ukrainian friend named Marta. She has lived in the US for 20 years, but still travels all over the world as an international relations specialist or something like that. She went to Georgetown for grad school and stayed on this side of the pond. She gave me travel advice for Lela, who is going to Kiev when she studies abroad in Russia next semester, and for me here in D.C.

About that time, Reba McEntire came onstage. As huge Reba fans, Marta and I went up closer to try to get a glimpse of her onstage (it was far away). Reba was so classy and confident, like always. She sang more songs than anyone else and was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for the Arts, the highest honor Congress gives to an artist. She was beautiful and very much herself in jeans, a flag t-shirt and her signature auburn hair.

After Reba, Marta and I talked more. She seemed very familiar, but I can’t place why. After a long, but good, day alone, I was warmed by her kindness. Usually I have to ask all of the questions in my 30-minute friendships like these, but she was a good initiator and we had a good conversation with the two couples next to us. One were both DC natives with a daughter in journalism school in South Carolina. The other were an Israeli and a Peruvian from Houston. They made for a fabulous group of international friends to spend the patriotic evening with. Wouldn’t have been truly American without them. haha

Though sometimes travelling alone can be lonely, it allows me to meet the most wonderful people.

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