“What is past is prologue,” writes William Shakespeare in The Tempest.
This quotation, engraved on the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C., is a great way to view history as setting the context for and shaping what is to come. As I reflect on our weekend jaunt to the capital of the United States, my heart flies high like our flag, carried by memories — little bits of history — that leave an impression on young and old minds alike.
In little time, we experienced much.
Transported by train from NYC, we arrived wide-eyed at Union Station, our first taste of the architecture that defines Washington.
Mile after mile, the monuments and their honorees grabbed hold of us, reminding us of unwavering vision and determination.
The first dogs, Bo and Sunny, frolicked on the White House lawn. Baby ducks flittered in the reflecting pool. Groups of marching bands and parent-liberated eighth graders swarmed the sights in proud school spirit.
History unfolded before our eyes at Mount Vernon as we witnessed a Revolutionary battle reenactment and stepped into our first president’s shoes, learning about his adeptness at running a farm, home, and country. A musket, three cornered hat, and feather pen became souvenirs.
We made up dances and songs: “do the monument!” We shared pizza, Monopoly, and conversation with new friends. We hovered over the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and stood in awe of the flag flown at Fort McHenry that inspired the Star Spangled Banner. The girls googled over the First Ladies’ inaugural gowns and accessories.
I’m not sure any of us can walk away unchanged. What’s past is prologue, or as my son puts it, “history was one second ago.”
Every second counts.