Our move to Virginia in 2010 situated us less than two hours from Washington, DC. John and I could visit the city one day each month for the rest of our lives (we plan to live until we’re 100 or so) and still never experience all there is to see in this fascinating metropolis. I have been to Washington exactly four times, including yesterday, and—for the first time in my life—I saw the cherry blossoms in bloom.
We spent the day in the Newseum—an extraordinary pilgrimage that I highly recommend, especially if you find the history of print, broadcast, and digital journalism as fascinating as John and I do. As we walked through the exhibits, I thought that although mine is a small life, and my contributions to the published word have been modest, I’m proud of being a writer.
When I began night school back in the 1970s, right after Watergate, I declared journalism as my initial major—All the President’s Men, the book and the film, were influential factors in my decision. I felt a kinship with so much of what I saw yesterday: actual sections of the Berlin Wall; a recreation of Tim Russert’s NBC bureau office; the 9/11 Gallery, with front pages from around the world chronicling the day’s tragic events; a sobering memorial to journalists who lost their lives in the line of duty. Journalists play such a crucial role in our society—it’s said that they write the first page of history—and sadly, quite often, they place their own lives in peril to do so.
After we left the Newseum, we took the Metro back to Union Station, where we’d parked our car. Before heading home on the highway, we detoured toward the Tidal Basin, which is where you can see the magnificent cherry trees—gifts from Japan to the United States in the early 20th century. An American journalist had a hand in that, too—Eliza Scidmore, who was the first female board member of the National Geographic Society.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival is going on now through April 27. If you find yourself in our nation’s capital, I hope you’ll have a chance to appreciate at least one beautiful bloom. And a chance to visit the Newseum, too.