A Trip Every American Should Take

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - January 14, 2009

TYSONS CORNER, VA. - My sister recently relocated to Virginia from Florida, so we are visiting her on the last leg of our holiday vacation. Tysons Corner is near McLean, Va., and has a population of about 20,000. It is an upscale suburb with a median family income of more than $96,000, while Virginia’s median income is about $59,000. Recent real estate reports show the average median price for a single-family home is $884,303, while townhouses average around $734,000. Condo sales prices are pegged at $409,376. It’s a pleasant town that shows signs of encroaching development while maintaining a traditional East Coast feel.

A walk around one of the more tony shopping centers reveals a demand for high-ticket items and designer name labels.

Consequently, that market is satisfied with wall-to-wall retailers sporting big names with price tags to match. There’s no economic malaise here.

Let me be clear. Comparing Washington, D.C., and its environs to Honolulu demands the invocation of the proverbial apples and oranges. But the interconnectivity of the entire serviceable D.C. area is well-served by rail. I am not privy to the financial details of D.C. Metro, but it works.

I have been an opponent to the rail project at home not because of opposition to mass transit, simply the plan presented (with the associated cost) does not make sense. However, I have been a frequent user of the D.C. Metro line, and for this region, rail does make sense.


This is our first visit to our nation’s capital. We had scheduled a trip with a group of my radio show listeners back in 2001, but the 9/11 attacks negated those plans. I am thrilled that we are able to share with our children the icons of our country. Just being here is a constant teaching opportunity. Zachary is in the second grade, and it’s joyful to see him associate what he is learning in school with the images he has until now only seen in books.

There were moments of great emotion for me in D.C. I lingered at the Lincoln Memorial simply awestruck by the majesty of the structure and the imposing figure of the statue. The view of the WWII Memorial, the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building from the steps of the memorial is beautiful. But it was a small, engraved message at the base of the memorial’s original steps that stopped me in my tracks. It was the exact spot where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his storied “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963. To stand in the same place where the call for judging his four children not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character was delivered made a deep impression.

I also was tremendously moved while visiting the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial. To read the names of those who died, etched in black marble, and seeing the thousands upon thousands of men and women who perished in service to their country ... words cannot describe the intensity of emotions when you contemplate the impact on the families and friends of those taken by war.

It took us years, but we made our family trip to Washington, D.C.

It’s a must for all who love this country. Walk the same halls as historic figures with the foresight, wisdom and bravery to afford all of us the opportunity to live in freedom. Immerse yourself in the legendary names like Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, Lincoln and Roosevelt. Bask in the glow of patriotism when you see and hear our American flag stand watch over the buildings and institutions that represent the creation and stew-ardship of this greatest societa experiment in history. Or simply sit on a park bench with the waters of the Potomac lapping against a walkway and share a quiet thought about our lives in America.

We have our challenges; we have our failures. But we also have our triumphs. We have a spiritual resiliency that can never be broken because at the end of the day, we are Americans. There is nothing else I’d rather be.

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