American  History Alive: From Fort McHenry  to the President’s  Front Yard

American History Alive: From Fort McHenry to the President’s Front Yard

Jul 31, 2017

I had been looking forward to the 2017-2018 school year for over a decade. It was the year that our son would be the 5th grade – the first year in which California students study American history. I had visions of showing him (and his 9-year-old sister) the places where all that crazy rebellion, revolution and nation-forming happened; places I had visited in the distant past and which I was eager to see again through the new lens of older eyes.

So we set about planning something more profound than a star-aligned school year: a fun-filled, educational family adventure that turned out to be one of the most memorable experiences of our lives. It hit my husband and me the same way. We realized that we are in the midst of a very special window in time, wherein our children are old enough to really appreciate and understand what they see, and wherein they still think it’s pretty cool to hang out with their parents and, yes, wherein they are still subject to our schedule and our whim. That window is a narrow one. We are determined to make the most of it.

We believed the historic weight of Washington D.C.’s Constitutional establishment and Baltimore’s rich founding settlements would prove to be a real boon to our kids’ elementary education so at the start of their summer vacation in June, our family headed east. First stop: Baltimore.

Inner Harbor, Baltimore

Humanity is drawn to water. For survival, originally, then for industry and trade, and now, for leisure. Baltimore’s Inner Harbor has been a haven for humanity since the city was founded in the 18th century. Named in 2009 as “the model for post-industrial waterfront redevelopment around the world” by the Urban Land Institute, the Inner Harbor in Baltimore is an attraction itself. Not just attracting ships for trade any longer, the waterfront was adapted as a focal point for public spaces, tourism, and housing. Now a historic port, the Inner Harbor is home to the National Aquarium, the Maryland Science Center, the Port Discovery Children’s Museum and a short ride away, the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore’s Druid Hill.

Boasting more than 16,000 animals, from sharks to sea turtles, the National Aquarium is a family favorite. Stunning exhibits attract guests from all over the world. A water taxi connects the harbor to attractions further off, including Fort McHenry and Fells Point. The renewal and transformation of the Harbor began in 1958, with the adoption and redevelopment of the 33 acre Charles Center by the City Council and Mayor Thomas D’Alessandro, and has continued since, directing the course of waterfront redevelopment with the successful additions of office buildings, hotels, and retail shops.

If the two-story dinosaur exhibits at the Science Center aren’t enough to keep the kiddos busy, and the pirate ships (ok, they’re really called tall ships) occasionally ported won’t suffice for the long days of summer, just head on over to Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and you’ll be talking about the world’s most interesting oddities for days.

Revolutionary Inklings

Fort McHenry, BaltimoreFort McHenry, BaltimoreFounded in 1729 and 1790, respectively, the cities of Baltimore and Washington, D.C. hold much interest in the line that extends from the British settlement, through the war for independence, up until the battle of 1812; when at the Battle of Baltimore, the valiant defense of Fort McHenry inspired Francis Scott Key to pen what would eventually be called “The Star Spangled Banner.”

A decisive victory won by the colonists on September 13, 1814, the soldiers defending the Fort repulsed an attack from both land and sea following the burning of Washington D.C. by the redcoats. Named after James McHenry, a soldier and physician who served under Washington and Lafayette during the War for Independence, the Fort is star-shaped and red-roofed. Touring with one of the Fort’s rangers, we discovered what it was like to be soldiers during the Battle of Baltimore, witnessed a re-enactment, took in a twilight tattoo ceremony, and even saw the Fort McHenry Guard performing drill, musket and artillery demonstrations.

Open year round, and just a cannon’s trajectory away from historic locations such as Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Antietam National Battlefield, the USS Constellation Museum, and Gettysburg National Military Park.

Gettysburg National Military Park

The site of yet another turning point in the tide of American history, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania serves as a reminder of the devastation the Civil War brought to the front porches, fields and gardens of its residents. Every home turned into a hospital, and every farm a graveyard. Known as the “High Water Mark of the Rebellion,” the National Military Park now remains as a marker to honor the lives given for freedom under the Union cause. President Abraham Lincoln commemorated the park with his famous eulogy, reminding those who listened to “renew their devotion to the cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.”

artillery at Gettysburg NMP

Gettysburg National Military ParkGettysburg National Military Park

For me, this stop ended up being one of the major highlights of our trip. The entire battlefield is now a national park. You can walk the grounds and see it as the soldiers saw it. There are monuments on site from just about every state, because sons of just about every state bled there on that field. I cannot express with enough enthusiasm the experience of letting an expert historian and tour guide drive us around the battlefield in our own car, unfolding for us as he drove the events of those three heartbreaking days (visit www.gettysburgfoundation.org). The museum at Gettysburg is one of the best I’ve ever visited, and that part of the country is unspeakably beautiful.

USS Constellation

The USS Constellation is actually the third in the line of American ships dubbed for the configuration of 15 stars found in the original flag of the United States. With its own proud and distinguished record, “Connie,” as her crew calls her affectionately, has almost 40 years of service - through the turbulent waters of the Arabian Gulf to Yankee Station on the coast of Vietnam.

The first Constellation was built by naval engineers Joshua Humphreys and Josiah Fox, 165 years before rivets were put to metal on the USS Constellation’s proud lines. Immediately put to the test, much like her predecessors, the USS Constellation sailed out of harbor straight into conflict, as the first U.S. airship to launch strikes against North Vietnamese vessels and bases in August of 1964.

For the eight years following, Constellation returned to the South China Sea seven times, conducting air strikes, engaging enemy aircraft, and naval targets alike. Sailing under the motto “Spirit of the Old, Pride of the New,” Connie was the second ship in the Kitty Hawk class of aircraft carriers, and has hosted various dignitaries over the years on her illustrious decks, including U.S. Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan. Pronounced “America’s Flagship” by President Reagan in a watershed moment in the carrier’s history, the Constellation would go on to lead 21 successful deployments, with over 30 commanding officers, over 41 years of proud service to her country.

For centuries, sailors have navigated the vast waters of the world’s oceans by starlight, finding their way over the dark and dangerous seas. And for over 200 years, the Constellation and her legacy have guided seamen home to free shores, kept so because of its work abroad in unfamiliar waters; a guiding light of American freedom.

America’s Favorite Pastime

Oriole Park at Camden YardsOriole Park at Camden YardsNow in its 25th season, Oriole Park at Camden Yards (www.mlb.com/orioles) is considered one of the best stadiums in baseball, with its throwback atmosphere, accessible location, and variety of concessions. We were lucky to experience America’s favorite pastime at the retro-style downtown ballpark that has inspired many other stadiums since and cheer for the Orioles against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Capitol Wanderings

Not to be outdone, on the grand tour of America’s history stands the Washington Monument, just an hour south of Gettysburg, and though currently closed for renovations, the 555-foot obelisk stands as a record of one of our first American heroes: George Washington. Part of the National Mall and Memorial Parks, the Monument is administered to by the National Park Service, receiving approximately 24 million visitors each year.

Depositphotos 32863353 originalIf you’re one of those 24 million, and you’d like a tour of the White House, make sure you’re thinking well in advance: tours are scheduled through one’s member of Congress and requests can be submitted up to three months and no sooner than three weeks in advance). Like most of the famous National Monument sites, the White House’s draw is both culturally and historically weighty, housing the President of the United States since 1800. The President’s Park and its surrounding 82 acres offer myriad opportunities to step back into another time.

We contacted Congressman Darryl Issa’s D.C. office a few weeks prior to our visit and were offered a tour of the U.S. Capitol by a member of his staff who walked us through the Capitol Building’s historic rooms, including the National Statuary Hall, the Old Senate Chamber, and the Old Supreme Court Chamber.

During our “capitol wanderings” over the course of our stay, we got a glimpse of researchers working at the (stunning) Library of Congress, walked by the World War II memorial, touched the Vietnam Wall, stood in awe of Lincoln’s much larger than life (in reality and in spirit) marble figure, visited the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, strolled the National Gallery of Art and encountered Picasso, van Gogh, Rembrandt, Dali and others through works we had no idea were housed there.

For the kids, walking around the Mall was hard work. There were steps to climb, fountains to attempt jumping into, and I’m certain the takeaways seemed almost too grandiose to comprehend. The legends of American history brought into sharp relief before our eyes: Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, FDR and Martin Luther King, Jr. From historic battlefields and modern day attractions to an all-American pastime, we started out chasing history but ended up making memories. We were lucky enough to get both. It only required a week away, a bit of forward planning and a realization that the window is open now, but won’t always be.

Incomparable Accommodations

KIMPTON HOTEL MONACO, BALTIMORE – INNER HARBOR

Kimpton Hotel MonacoKimpton Hotel MonacoIt seems incongruous to describe a lobby characterized by soaring marbled staircases and crystal chandeliers as “playful” until you step across the carefully preserved threshold of the Kimpton Hotel Monaco in Baltimore (www.monaco-baltimore.com). The entire experience was akin to playing dress up in the most exquisite jewelry and ballgowns as a child, only to find out that all the gems were real, and the dress was an Alexander McQueen original. The hotel does relaxing and luxury without the pretension behind it, and as such, has created a restful haven near the Inner Harbor. Ideally situated, the hotel offers amenities such as in-room spa services, and every suite is outfitted with a yoga mat, making your stay feel like a wildly relaxing version of home.

Kimpton Glover ParkKimpton Glover ParkComplimentary morning coffee and tea service elevate the experience even more, starting your day off with the right lift to get you out the doors and onto one of the Kimpton’s perfectly appointed custom PUBLIC bikes to ride around town. Back to the historic Beaux-Arts building for a lunch or dinner sourced from local farmers and purveyors at B&O American Brasserie will give your palate the ride of a lifetime. Once the headquarters of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, the restaurant serves only the freshest ingredients, and boasts a buzzing happy hour with a craft cocktail program that makes it one of the city’s favorite hangouts: for both locals and travelers alike.

Kimpton Hotel MonacoKimpton Hotel Monaco

Kimpton Glover ParkKimpton Glover Park

Just a short walk or ride to the city’s most famous attractions, and a short skip into its historic neighborhoods makes the Kimpton Hotel Monaco a perfect jumping off point for any social event, business meeting, or quick, luxurious and truly playful getaway.

KIMPTON GLOVER PARK, WASHINGTON D.C.

Sometimes, staying in the heart of the action is exactly where you want to be. But occasionally, a tree-lined street away from the sensory barrage of the city beckons with a Siren’s call. A quiet, boutique hotel nestled in Upper Georgetown, the Kimpton Glover Park (www.gloverparkhotel.com) offers beautifully appointed guest rooms above the canopy of Rock Creek Park. Easily accessible to the buzz and hum of Georgetown’s cobblestoned streets, the hotel finds a quiet confidence among the neighborhood, oozing relaxation after a hectic day of business meetings or sightseeing.

Whether you just came from the Kennedy Center or Georgetown University’s stunning campus, life is good inside Casolare, a James Beard award-winning destination restaurant. Serving Chef Michael Schlow’s family favorites from Amalfi, Sardinia, Puglia, Cinque Terre, and Livorno, Casolare brings Italy to Glover Park. The eatery provides a vibrant selection of seafood, as well as wood-fired pizza and antipasti. Perfect for a large group of friends and family, or new colleagues eager for a taste of the city. Inspired by the neighborhood’s namesake, Charles Carroll Glover - a banker and philanthropist who famously helped reshape the nation’s capital with donations of almost 3,000 acres of parkland - the Kimpton Glover Park Hotel blends the urban edge with familial comfort and tranquility.

Latest News

Sad Songs, Heartaches and Tragedies

Entertainment Joe D

Sad Songs, Heartaches and Tragedies

“What in the world’s come over you…?” Jack Scott, “What in the World’s Come Over You” The lyrics of the 1950’s...

The Towers at Laguna Wood Willage

Home Life Sorbet Mag

The Towers at Laguna Wood Willage

Ask any resident of The Towers why he or she moved there and you’ll get a similar response: “I was ready to giv...

SOKA Performing Arts Center presents TenPints New Music Series - John Welsh Band - Latin Reggae

Entertainment Sorbet Mag

SOKA Performing Arts Center presents TenPints New Music Series - John Welsh Band - Latin Reggae

Friday, October 20, 2017 @8:00 PM John Welsh Band creates a sound that blends high energy Latin, West African...

Business Showcase: Shamrock Windows and Doors. Insulating Your Investment and Installing a View of t…

Business Showcase Sorbet Mag

Business Showcase: Shamrock Windows and Doors. Insulating Your Investment and Installing a View of the Future

Average temperatures in White Bear Lake, Minnesota range from -6 degrees Fahrenheit to 106. It isn’t difficult ...

Platinum Pacific. Your Retirement Community Leader in Quality Remodels

Business Showcase Jody Robinson

Platinum  Pacific. Your Retirement Community Leader  in Quality Remodels

There has been a surge in popularity over the past decade in the field of home renovation. At first, it was sim...

Pets of the Month

Home Life Jody Robinson

Pets of the Month

Leo is a six year old cutie with a shining personality.  A Jack Russell Terrier mix, Leo just loves to pla...

Merrill Insurance Services Educating Seniors on Medicare and Medicare Insurance Plans

Insurance Jody Robinson

Merrill Insurance Services Educating Seniors on Medicare and Medicare Insurance Plans

One of the biggest frustrations that folks have with Health Insurance when going into the Medicare Market is du...

How Your Bones Can Help You Live Longer

Health & Wellness Paul and Carolyn Fetters

How Your Bones Can Help You Live Longer

You’ve already heard time and time again about needing to have “strong” bones as you age. And with good reason…...

Finding Body Harmony with Health Works Juice Bistro

Health & Wellness Jody Robinson

Finding Body Harmony with Health Works Juice Bistro

A symphony orchestra is typically comprised of seventy to one hundred musicians. Depending on the work being pl...

ETERNAL ROOTS: Creating a Memory “Capsule” of a Life’s Stories to Cherish Forever

Business Showcase Sorbet Mag

ETERNAL ROOTS: Creating a Memory “Capsule”  of a Life’s Stories  to Cherish Forever

The idea of a time capsule is not a new one. Made with the intention that they should be opened at a later date...

Every Life has a Story – to Honor, Share and Remember

Education Alexis Kerr

Every Life has a Story – to Honor, Share and Remember

A life well celebrated is a legacy planned well. Pre-planning is a gift from the living to the living. To plan ...

Misty Copeland and Daniil Simkin lead opening night cast of American Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcrac…

Entertainment Sorbet Mag

Misty Copeland and  Daniil Simkin  lead opening night cast  of American Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcracker  at Segerstrom Center for the Arts

Live Music Performed by Pacific Symphony December 7 - 17, 2017 Misty Copeland and Daniil Simkin will lead the...

October is National Audiology Awareness Month

Health & Wellness Sorbet Mag

October is National Audiology Awareness Month

Hearing loss is the third most common health issue in the United States, affecting 36 million U.S. adults. To r...

Thinking Inside the MedBox. The New Standard in Medication Management Offers a Better Way to Dispens…

Health & Wellness Jody Robinson

Thinking Inside the MedBox. The New Standard in Medication Management Offers a Better Way to Dispense Prescriptions

In a recent conversation with my mother, I discovered something. Something that was a cause for pause as I pond...

The Law Firm of Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie: Bringing Justice Home

Home Life Sorbet Mag

The Law Firm  of Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie: Bringing Justice Home

My sister was hit by a snowboarder when she was sixteen. On skis, just a couple of turns from the bottom of the...

Stable, Comfortable and Versatile Lift Chairs

Business Showcase Sorbet Mag

Stable, Comfortable and Versatile Lift Chairs

Falls are the fourth leading cause of death among those 65 and older. 75% of those 75 years and older who fall...

Bringing Good Health Home with Acti-Kare and Lori Renaud, R.N., BSN

Health & Wellness Jody Robinson

Bringing Good Health Home with Acti-Kare and Lori Renaud, R.N., BSN

All the jokes my husband makes about potentially living under the same roof as his mother-in-law aside, my 84-y...

Tips for Seniors to Beat the Summer Heat

Health & Wellness CalOptima

Tips for Seniors  to Beat the Summer Heat

With temperatures soaring over the summer months, seniors are at increased risk of dehydration, sunburns and se...

Service with a Smile, for Your Smile Dynamic Dentistry with Bruce Glover, DDS

Health & Wellness Jody Robinson

Service with a Smile, for Your Smile  Dynamic Dentistry  with Bruce Glover, DDS

A brilliant smile is currency in California. Land of leaning palm trees, beach traffic, and the golden streets ...

Slaying the Medicare Minotaur: Escaping the Labyrinth with Porter Page and Company

Health & Wellness Jody Robinson

Slaying the Medicare Minotaur: Escaping the Labyrinth  with  Porter Page and Company

In In the Greek myth of the Minotaur, a creature with the head of a bull and body of a man dwelt in the middle ...

Prev Next