Updated: Apr 17, 2019
Day 2: I woke up at 5:30am. Why you may ask? Because I wanted to go to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The only way you have a chance to get tickets realistically is to log on at 6:00am - keep refreshing the page - and reserve your tickets once they’re posted. The museum does this every day where they have a designated amount of tickets available for lottery to be reserved. The museum is free, but because of its high popularity they have to keep the attendance volume in check, and can only have so many people inside at one time.
Well, I got our tickets, got dressed and we were out the door headed to Arlington National Cemetery.
Now why would I want to go to a cemetery when I just said I scored tickets to the National Museum of African American History and Culture? It’s because our ticket time wasn’t until 11:30am. Plus I am a military brat and former Army Reservist. I have a certain level of respect for the military and the people who do put their lives out on the line for us.
We went and stayed long enough to see the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Again, since we’re military we entered through the base entrance - located in the back of the cemetery, and parked for free. For the public you will have to utilize the front entrance which requires you to pay for parking. Now you can either walk the roads to get to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier or you can pay for a tour bus and get a live tour of the whole grounds.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a Congress approved burial of an unidentified American soldier from World War I in the plaza of the new Memorial Amphitheater. Inscribed on the back of the Tomb are the words:
"Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God."
Once we saw the changing of the guards we left and made our way back to D.C .for our time slot at the museum. We didn’t want to pay for parking so we circled several times downtown until we found an available spot on the side street. If you have never parallel parked before then I don’t suggest you try it on a busy Saturday morning; as traffic is continuing its regular flow right next to you. But hey, if you manage to find a spot and get in it then you’ve saved yourself some money!
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. It is split up into two levels: upper level and lower level.
Each level consists of three floors. The lower level is the history or rather evolution of the African American story starting from the days of slavery and captivity. It moves on to the “end of slavery” entering the era of Civil Rights, Women's Rights, Brown vs. Board of Education, the death of Emmett Till, and much much more until we reach today's events with the Black Lives Matter movement and our first African American President: Barack Obama. IT IS A LOT OF INFORMATION. It would take you several trips to really go over all of the information that the lower half alone contains.
My mom and I went through the lower level reading excerpts and listening to the audio recordings of certain exhibits that interested us, and skimmed other aspects. You have to be prepared to spend hours there. Understand that you will be on your feet the majority of the time. The reason being is that you take a huge elevator down to the very bottom and then have to walk up the three floors in a slanting upward slope.
After exploring the lower level we went to the upper level Community Galleries floor. This floor had exhibits for African American organizations that were and are still prominent in our culture. I was specifically moved by the exhibits for Black Greek Lettered organizations as I am a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. Along with the exhibit for the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW). There are of course other aspects of the second floor, but again we skimmed through that section. The first floor of the upper level, Explore More, is supposed to be a highly interactive floor, great for children. While the third floor, Culture Gallery, is meant to cover aspects of the African American culture.
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