When asked for his birthday wish list (which is always quite lengthy!) Bryan’s top wish was to visit the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center – the National Air and Space Museum at the Dulles International Airport near Washington D.C. with his dad. He loves these adventures with his father and calls them his “male-bonding trips”.
Saturday the boys set out early and traveled down the ever-busy I-95 towards D.C. They hit the ground running at the museum and saw every square inch of the place for four hours straight. They saw every aircraft, the space shuttle, and every jet spanning the time from World War I to space travel. His favorite plane was the SR-71 Blackbird, pictured below, the one thing he really wanted to see. Of course, he bought a book about it in the ever-present gift shop on his way out!
He went into several simulators and virtual reality rides, and an IMAX movie. But his favorite part of the tour, interestingly enough, was seeing the service bays where planes were in the process of being restored. That fascinated him and he told his dad that he would love to be able to work there someday.
Connecting Bryan’s love of war movies and TV shows with what he was seeing, Dad questioned him as to where he had seen some of the planes hanging midair. Bryan got every one. Some of the connections he made were with the aircraft seen in : “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep”, “The Longest Day”, Top Gun”, Midway” and “Battle of the Bulge”.
After the four hour stint, the boys were pretty wiped out and ravenous, having had no lunch. Upon entering the Longhorn Steak House, a warm loaf of crusty bread was laid out on the table in front of Bryan. He bowed low to it in gratitude!
The next day, Bryan and Dad went on a driving tour of Washington. For some reason he wanted to “wave at the Library of Congress”. A rather strange request! They drove past the familiar white monuments, stopping to view the World War II Memorial. Bryan knows his two grandfather’s names are within those walls. But the most sobering thing for him was viewing the Freedom Wall on which there are 4,048 stars, each representing 1,000 soldiers killed during the war. He became humbled and very quiet, seeming to grasp the import of what those stars meant.
The male-bonding trip encompassed the exciting, the new, and the sobering truth of our past history. Not only forging a closer father-son bond but bringing our national history and past into the present to remember and appreciate – an apt thought for Memorial Day as well.