“All I really want to do in my whole life is go to see George Washington’s house!” Coby said one day last spring when I picked him up from school. They had been studying America and several things about our glorious history had tickled his fancy.
Hmmmmm, thought I. I think I can make that happen! I knew that Mack was teaching in DC this summer, so I asked Coby’s parents for permission to take him with us. And, the adventure began.
We got a hotel right off the mall – The Holiday Inn, where we had stayed the last few times we visited DC. A perfect location – close to the museums and very family-friendly. A real plus for this hotel for Coby was the pool on the roof. As soon as he realized that the tall walls around the roof would keep us from falling, he was all-in! We spent many happy hours in that pool after hot days of sight-seeing. During this trip, he learned to dive for objects on the bottom of the pool. This made me think of the time my younger sister Kelly was taught to dive in a hotel pool by football coach-legend Tom Landry:)
Several months earlier, I booked passage on the Spirit of Mt. Vernon to take us down the Potomac to George Washington’s house. While the weather was iffy (hot and thunderstorms every day), the impending storm held off for the entire trip (then the deluge came as we were 1/2 way back to the hotel from the drop-off spot).
It was a glorious trip. Coby (6 years old) was in charge of the map, and guided us around GW’s gorgeous estate. The gift shop was, of course, a main attraction. And, I can’t really blame him – the Mt. Vernon gift shop was one of the best I’ve seen…a fully stocked children’s book section, great costumes, GW props and even a bucket of Revolutionary War soldiers (which was Coby’s choice). We spent the hour and a half boat ride home reenacting (sorta) the Revolutionary War.
We spent the next day on a hop-on, hop-off bus, hitting all of the DC highlights – the Lincoln Memorial, the White House, and Arlington Cemetery. We weren’t sure about taking a 6 year old to a cemetery, but it turned out to be a highlight of the trip. After watching the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Coby bravely asked the guards if they would take a picture with him. They graciously did so, then one of the guards gave Coby an Old Guard token in a “secret handshake.” Coby said, “this is one of the best days of my whole life!”
Decades ago, we took Coby’s dad to DC, along with his brothers, cousin, aunt and grandmother. He was six years old, just like Coby. That, too, was a dream vacation – a real memory maker. He is now a government teacher and lawyer, and loves history. I can’t help but think that trip had a bit to do with that love.
I saw a sign the other day, a quote from Henry James, “I think patriotism is like charity-it begins at home.” I believe that and I’m happy that we were able to cultivate that patriotic seed that was planted in school.
I could go to DC every month and never see all that I want to see. I hope to be able to take Coby back in the coming years and watch as his knowledge of our history and his patriotism grows.