Our first stop, Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier
Jess and I arrived early enough this morning at the host hotel to enjoy a bit of breakfast as she started trying to take it all in.
The number of riders allowed into Arlington National Cemetery is limited to no more than 400 out of the 1,000 or so from all three routes who made The Run. They focus on getting us FNGs priority in that limited group, and I was fortunate enough to be able to join.
Jess had never been to Arlington, and she was moved as much as, if not more so, than I. We arrived at Arlington, and made our way to park near The Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier. We were able to pay our respects at The Tomb for only a few minutes, due to the already high heat and humidity. As we made our way to the water fountains and shade, we had the honor of seeing an Honor Flight of WWII Veterans. They, and their medical support entourage, were also there to pay their respects. It was our significant honor to thank each of those Veterans as we passed one another.
After cooling down and hydrating, we made our way back to our bikes, where we met fellow riders who were using what available shade there was to recuperate themselves. Stories and experiences, instigated by these hallowed grounds, were shared as we waited to ride on to The Lincoln Memorial.
RFTW group photo on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial
We rode on to the National Mall, parked, and made our way over to the Lincoln Memorial for group photo with all of the RFTW riders. Our group managed to fill pretty much all of the steps up to the memorial, and the tourists were surely curious.
Paying our respects at The Vietnam Memorial Wall
After the group photo was taken, we made our way across The Mall to pay our respects at The Vietnam Memorial Wall. Words cannot do justice to the emotions felt at this, the goal of our Run. I will simply leave these photos here for you to reflect upon.