Nomadic Life – Week 19 – The Price of Freedom
At the start of our 19th week of nomadic life, Jennifer and I said goodbye to our family in the D.C. area and continued our drive south. Before leaving the D.C. area we stopped by Arlington National Cemetery. Autumn had arrived in Arlington and the grounds were beautifully painted with the red, orange and yellow hues of fall. I love the history found in this cemetery. The sheer number of headstones found in this location leaves visitors with a better understanding of the price of freedom.
The History of Arlington
The history of the Arlington National Cemetery is amazing. Arlington has ties to Martha Washington and of course Robert E. Lee. The life stories of the historical figures laid to rest here are inspiring, the memorials to great achievements and profound losses are captivating, and the tradition of honoring our nation’s unknown soldiers is humbling.
Continuing our Trip into History
Next, we headed south to continue our walk through history and visited Colonial Williamsburg. My grandfather loved this area of the country. I spent a lot of my childhood exploring Williamsburg, Yorktown, & Jamestown. This area is where some of the first settlements on the continent were established and the idea of our country was born, fought for and won. My grandfather loved this historic area so much that he moved here after retirement. My grandmother still lives in the area today. We came to visit her and had a great time exploring these places of my childhood.
Colonial Williamsburg was in a way re-established by John D. Rockefeller Jr. in the 1920s. This was the capital of Virginia during the colonial period and many founding fathers visited or lived in the town. After the Revolutionary War, Richmond became the capital which in a way helped to preserve the colonial town of Williamsburg. If Colonial Williamsburg had remained the capital it would have modernized with the rest of the world, but as the money and power shifted to Richmond the funds to modernize were removed. When Rockefeller purchased much of the area he removed the modern buildings and restored nearly 80 percent of the colonial capital. Walking these streets transports visitors back in time to glimpse revolutionary life. It is an amazing and unique gift.
We took a walk along the dusty streets and had lunch at one of the eateries. We also enjoyed a tour around the city streets in one of the horse-drawn carriages.
Before the sunset, we finished out the day by driving through the Yorktown Battlefield. This is where Cornwallis surrendered to General Washington essentially ending the Revolutionary War. The battlefield has flags erected in certain spots as a dedication to those who fell there and paid the ultimate price of freedom. We had dinner at the Yorktown Pub which is a sports bar on the waterfront of the York River. We had an enormous amount of tasty seafood. This is one of the best meals we’ve had on the east coast.
Monday and Tuesday we spent time with my grandmother and visited the area in the more modern city of Williamsburg, Virginia. We had a great time and many more opportunities to enjoy some great seafood.
Wednesday and Thursday were spent exploring the area around Norfolk, VA. This is a town full of maritime history. There is a museum here named the Nauticus that I wish we had time to explore but on weekdays work comes first. The Museum doesn’t open until late morning. Luckily there are lots of signs around the Nauticus that tell the story of Norfolk and the men and women who served to maintain our freedoms. The USS Wisconsin is dry-docked here as a part of the museum. She was commissioned and served in the Pacific theater of WWII and every conflict up until Operation Desert Storm.
There are many memorials in the area as well but I will very likely remember one for the rest of my life. It is the story of the attack submarine USS Scorpion that vanished in 1968 with all 99 crewmen aboard. The remains of the ship were found later that same year but to this day the reason she sunk is inconclusive. The memorial plaque for the Scorpion is among several other listing various casualties throughout Norfolk’s maritime history.
The reason the Scorpion stands out to me is that an older gentleman who walked slowly dragging an air tank to breath was weeping over this plaque. He worked in the naval yard when the effects of asbestos were unknown and asbestos blankets were used in the processes of shipbuilding. The work of serving our country in this manner had left him unable to breathe on his own. He had known the men of the Scorpion and called several of them his friends. Sometimes it is easy for me to forget that history is very real in a way that affects people today. I saw the plaques as stories of fallen heroes and the price that is selflessly paid to live in a free country. This man lived this truth and carried the pain and the price of freedom. A true hero amongst the memory of fellow heroes.
Northwest River Park
On Friday we drove south to the Northwest River Park. The park is located between two forks of the Northwest River near the border of Virginia and North Carolina. The park has a large campground in the woods. It is a hidden gem that many locals seem to know about as even on a cold autumn evening the campground had more than twenty rigs setup for the night. The campground had good wireless access and made for a great secluded spot to work. After work, we relaxed and enjoyed our evening.
Our nomadic life wouldn’t be possible without the freedom that others have paid for. Thank you to all who serve!