The Week of the Junior Ranger


We had a big Junior Ranger week!  Here you can see the stash Character Queen and Mr. Bang earned last week!

Ford’s Theatre

Somehow, I’ve never made it to Ford’s Theatre before!  I expected that it would take about an hour – see the theater where Lincoln was shot, then cross the street to Peterson’s house where he died.  Wrong!  You do those things, but there’s also a fairly extensive museum teaching all about Lincoln’s life and death and what was going on in the country during his presidency.  It took us three and a half hours – and we skipped the last two museum exhibits!



The park ranger also gave us activity books for Underground Railroad and Civil War, which both involved visiting multiple sites in the area.  He went ahead and gave me the Civil War badges to give to the kids later – they had earned them by the end of the week.


President’s Park

President’s Park is the name of the lawns in front of and behind the White House.  The park contains many statues of people important in the country’s history: Sherman, Rochambeau, Andrew Jackson, etc. There is one main statue we had to see at President’s Park.  Can you guess who?

If you guessed the Marquis de Lafayette…you win!

We didn’t walk all through the Park and see all the statues.  The work to earn the President’s Park badge all takes place at the White House Visitor Center.  There is also a White House badge, but you have to arrange a tour a good bit ahead of time for that, which I didn’t do.  So we just took some pics out front while we were there.





Arlington Cemetery/ Arlington House

We got to spend much of the week with good friends who live in the area – and got to be with them as they earned their first (and later second) Junior Ranger badges!

Fun fact:  Did you know that Robert E. Lee was married to Martha Washington’s great-granddaughter (George’s step-great-granddaughter)?   There are probably many of you who are history buffs who knew that, but if I had learned it before, I definitely didn’t remember it.

So, at this house, where Lee and his wife lived until it was overtaken by the Union army, there are a lot of Washington connections, including Martha’s White House china.

When we were still in the front entry hallway, CQ came to me after peaking into a room and whispered, “There’s a bust of Lafayette in there.”  Now, admittedly, many of those busts from that time period look alike to me, so I wasn’t 100% sure if she was right.  However, soon after that, I did notice a large portrait of Lafayette above our heads in the hallway.  Then once we went in the room, I verified with a park ranger, and, of course, it was indeed Lafayette!  After George Washington died, Lafayette continued his friendship with Washington’s step-grandson, George Washington Parke Custis, who had the house built.  He stayed overnight at the house during his tour of the States in 1824.  The park ranger even showed us a decoration on the mantel that had been a gift from Lafayette.

We frequently forget to ask for specific stories about Lafayette when we visit these old sites, but then the stories come to the surface nearly everywhere we go – even a house most famous for being the home of a Civil War general!


National Mall and Memorial Parks

Earning this badge involved going around to many of the monuments downtown, mainly around the tidal basin.  We took a few days accomplishing this one!

Washington Monument


The Washington Monument was closed due to earthquake damage last time we were in town, and closed due to elevator issues this time!

Jefferson Memorial

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial


Lincoln Memorial


Korean War Memorial


Vietnam War Memorial


Great Falls Park

This was a fun park to visit because we have sweet memories of taking Character Queen multiple times when she was toddling around. (Until we sold our house, she has always kept a photo of her being tossed in the air by Daddy on her bedside table.  That photo was taken at Great Falls.)  It was extra fun because our friends joined us!  In fact, my friend is so awesome, she invited CQ and MB to spend the night so my husband and I could have a rare night to ourselves, and then she brought all the kids and met me at the park!

The history behind this park is that George Washington had this great idea to use the Potomac River as a way to connect the original states to the new western territories, eventually connecting with the Ohio River.  He envisioned the Potowmac Canal as an important path in making his plan functional.  An impressive series of locks was built in order to raise and lower boats seven stories as they safely skirted around the falls.  The project took 17 years – and was completed two years after Washington’s death.  Ultimately, due to the completion of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and then the coming ease of railroad transportation, the project was abandoned in 1830.


Ft. McHenry

I just realized that this badge got left out of my pic at the very top!  Oops!  They earned one more last week!

Ft. McHenry, as you may remember, is where, during the War of 1812, the lawyer Frances Scott Key looked out (from a British ship, in fact) after a long night of barrage by British forces to see how this American fort had dealt with the attack.  He watched through his spyglass as the American flag was lowered…and then a huge American flag was raised in its place!  American soldiers had withstood the attack, and Baltimore was not going to be burned as Washington D.C. had just been!  The emotions stirred up in Key caused him to sit with a quill pen and write a poem reflecting on what had just happened.  Of course, that poem was then put with music, and not long after, it became our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

We all know the first verse so well, but when is the last time you sang, or even read, any of the other verses?  I’ll included it here, since the post is a little too short without it.  😉

Oh, say can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes And bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming.
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the braver

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that, which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam;
In full glory reflected, now shines in the stream.
'Tis the star-spangled banner!-oh, long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
'Mid the havoc of war And the battle's confusion,
A home and a country they'd leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps, pollution!
No refuge could save the hireling And slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave.
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Oh, thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home And war's desolation;
Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust!"
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free And the home of the brave.


3 thoughts on “The Week of the Junior Ranger

  1. You went to Wolf Trapp! I have wanted to go there but have never been.
    The Roosevelt Memorial is my absolute favorite! I love having places to sit, so you can look at the statues longer. I love reading all the quotes throughout the Memorial.


    • The only other time I’ve been was when the Martins took me years ago – I think it was the summer Su and I lived there. They played Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture with cannons. When the kids and I were there, people were lining up for a Chicago concert. 🙂


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