I got home from CPAC 2013 a week ago.  My thoughts this week looked back kindly at the conference.  I saw amazing speeches from brilliant conservatives that are doing their best to lead this great nation.  Best of all I finally got to meet most my FreeRadicalNetwork.com family and it confirmed that I am blessed to have them in my life.  I networked.  I people-watched.  I took pictures with important people.  I had great food and amazing conversations with new friends.

I had a great time at the conference, but I found myself somewhat disappointed, as it was not what I had expected it to be.  I had expected the conference to get me motivated, to become more active in the conservative movement.  To my great disappointment, it wasn’t the conference that did that for me. It was the four days prior to the conference that amped my faith in this country.  It gave me more hope for the future and undying admiration for it’s past.  I knew I loved this country, but now I have no doubt of my allegiance to this great nation.

My husband and I flew into DC on Saturday March 9, 2013.  We had been up most of the night as we had three hour drive to Omaha, NE before our three-hour flight to DC.  We checked in to our motel, took a nap and then went to Arlington National Cemetery.  There are no words that I can say to properly describe how being there made me feel.  Regardless of where we where at the cemetery, there were headstones as far as the eye could see.  Even though there were hills and creeks, they were perfectly lined like never-ending rows of corn on the Midwest prairie.  There were acres and acres and acres of burial plots of men and women that freely gave their lives to protect my country, to protect my friends, to protect my enemies, to protect my family and to protect myself.  They did this freely, with honor and pride.  Many died far before they even had a chance to really live.  My heart was so filled with emotion: sadness as I know that each one of the tombstones where a person that was mourned by their family; thankfulness as I understand the ultimate sacrifice they made for my country.  Tears escaped my eyes when we got to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  There was not a worn path in front of tomb from the guards; there were worn footsteps.  Every guard had the same width steps, the same cadence, and the same sense of honor, duty and privilege guarding that tomb.  For they were guarding their brother, their friend, their family, their country with every step.  At the top of the hour, there is a ceremony as they change guards.  So much reverence; so much honor.

We then went to the Pentagon and visited the 9/11 memorial.  It was simple.  It honored each person that died there on that horrible day.  For each person there was a small s-shaped piece with a small pool underneath.  They were in order of the year of their birth, as we all know the date of their death.  It was the only area of the Pentagon where we were allowed to take pictures.  Again, I could feel my ache for these innocent heroes.

On Sunday, March 10, we walked the National Mall.  We started at the White House.  Men in finely pressed uniforms shooed us away from the gate as someone important was either coming or going.  I was amazed at how many people were patrolling both sides of the fence.  Not being as close as possible didn’t hinder the beauty of the magnificent building.  Not surprisingly, there were men sitting in parked cars around the White house, they just watched people.  I wonder who they were?

Our next stop was the Washington Monument.  We didn’t get too close, as it was blocked off.  A recent earthquake had damaged it and it has not been completely repaired.  I was amazed at how prevalent it was from wherever you were in the area.  When I saw it from different areas of DC, each view was more amazing than that last.

We finally reached the reflecting pool.  I had been waiting my whole life to sit on the steps of Lincoln Memorial and gaze over the pool to the Washington Memorial.  How many movies, news broadcasts and documentaries have I seen with that view, and I was actually seeing it with my own two eyes?  Breathtaking.  The statue of Abraham Lincoln was so much bigger than I expected.  Maybe it was all the steps up the monument but it seemed to have taken my breath away.

The Vietnam Memorial also moved me emotionally.  Seeing all those names.  It seemed the list went forever.  Again I found that my heart hurt.  All these soldiers had died for their country in a war that so many thought was wrong.  It hit too close to home when I found two heroes sharing my maiden name.  I will be having a genealogy lesson soon.

As honored as I was to see it, the Korean War Monument kind of creeped me out.  There were 19, 6-foot statues of people that served in the war.  These statues were arranged so it looked as though they were walking through a field.  Their images reflected onto a granite wall making 38 soldiers symbolizing the 38thparallel.  The statues seemed so cold and foreign yet I kept looking at them, waiting for them to move and continue walking.

Of all the war monuments I think WWII was my favorite.  There were large pillars circling a large fountain.  Each pillar had the name of a state or US territory that fought in the war.  They were adorned with brass wreaths at the top of each pillar.  I think it was my favorite because I have a few patients that were WWII vets.  One went on an Honor Flight last year and was able to see the memorial.  He was so happy and proud to do so.

My favorite presidential monument was the Jefferson Memorial.  It is off on its own, it seems.  Inside is a large statue of President Jefferson.  On four of the inside walls are quotes from him.  Even today, his words of wisdom ring so true.  He was a wise man that laid the foundation of this great nation.

Monday, March 11th, was our educational day.  It was our Smithsonian day.  The architecture of the castle was amazing.  I learned so much at the Air and Space Museum.  We saw amazing pieces of art at the galleries. We ended the day with the nation’s capitol.  As we walked closer and it got bigger and bigger I become more and more awestruck.  Within those walls our laws are made.   For better or worse, within those walls, our country evolves.  I thought of those men and women that try so hard to make this country better.  No matter what our beliefs, no matter what our party affiliation, we have to respect them.

Tuesday, March 12th was the best day of my Washington DC trip.  This is the day I will remember for the rest of my life.  We waited two hours in the pouring rain to get into the National Archives.  By the time we entered the doors we were soaked, even with the over priced umbrella we bought from a street vendor.  Waiting to get into THE room, I could hardly wait.  The thick black bars of the gate were open, inviting us in to see the documents that made my county unique and strong.  The room was surprisingly dark so the light would not further damage the priceless documents.  There was chill to the room and the air seemed almost stuffy.  When the guard said we could enter, I had to hold back the undying urge to run.  I walked swiftly to it, waiting patiently for the crowd to disburse so I could get close.  And there it was…..

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Tears welled in my eyes; I tried to keep them contained yet they slid down my face anyway.  The Constitution is such a beautiful document.  How did our founding fathers have the wisdom and the intelligence to create this document?  They were not conceited, they knew they had to leave room for this document to change and evolve just as this country would. Next was the Declaration of Independence.  They are such strong, bold words.  I can only imagine how these men felt.  They knew this could be their undoing.  Potentially England could annihilate them.  Reading this document in that dimly lit room made me a better person, made me a stronger American.

The ending highlight of that dark room was the Bill of Rights.  This document is so amazing.  It gives me the right to speak my mind, to hold strong to my guns, it gives me the ability to vote, to abide in an icy beverage of my choice, the be the person my God  says I should be.  It makes us Americans.

These documents are so precious to our nation.  They are yellowed and brittle.  The ink is fading yet the words are more important than ever.  As much as we may disagree, these documents bind us; they unite us.  When we get discouraged with our government, when the political bull is too much for us to handle, we need to read these documents.  They are the link to our past and the bridge to our future.