In Memoriam: A Photo Essay of Arlington National Cemetery

In Memoriam: A Photo Essay of Arlington National Cemetery

Each year on the last Monday in May, the United States observes Memorial Day. This day is set aside to honor those who died while serving in the US military. While some use this long weekend as a time to rest, barbecue, or shop at one of the many sales at their local shopping malls, the original intent of this day should not be forgotten. To commemorate this Memorial Day, we at Global ETA put together this photo essay of our 2010 visit to Arlington National Cemetery.

The first burials at Arlington took place in May 1864 and one month later, it was established as a national cemetery.  Located in Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., Arlington National Cemetery is now the final resting place for over 400,000 active duty service members, veterans, and their families. The grounds are beautiful and serene but a lot to cover, so allow at least a half-day for a visit. In addition, it is helpful to plan what you would like to see in advance, so that you give yourself plenty of time.The photos below represent some of the main highlights of Arlington National Cemetery, including the Tomb of the Unknown SoldierJohn F. Kennedy’s grave siteMedgar Evers’ grave site, the Space Shuttle Challenger MemorialArlington House (Robert E. Lee Memorial), and the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. Just click on one to open the full photo and slide show. These are but a few of the important sites to visit at Arlington National Cemetery; see the webpage for more information. Wishing everyone a safe and reflective Memorial Day weekend.

Have you been to Arlington National Cemetery? How are you commemorating Memorial Day? Who will you be honoring? Leave comments below!

New Book Review – Caminata: A Journey

Caminata is the story of an American woman’s time in Honduras volunteering at La Casa de los Ninos in 1983, living in a home for young women abandoned by their families and learning to make their way in the world. During her year there, Beth must learn quickly how to navigate the culture, manage the expectations of the nuns who run the home as well as her own, and most importantly, to gain the girls’ trust in order to be of any support to them.

Not really a travel book per se, this book based loosely on the author’s time as a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras. Currently Lori DiPrete Brown coordinates international education at University of Wisconsin Madison and also directs 4W, a program which focuses on health and wellness of women in Wisconsin and the world.

In the interest of full disclosure, I recently began partnering with Lori and 4W in my own work as the Gender and Women’s Studies Librarian for the UW System. In my limited interactions with her thus far, I find Lori to be a real spitfire, a woman who has big ideas and who finds ways to bring those ideas to life. I like that, so I was very interested in reading her book.

As someone who has never been to Honduras, I found the descriptions in Caminata brought to life the landscape and people of the country, which provided a vivid backdrop for the book. Beth’s story is interwoven with those of each of the girls she comes to know, each of whom who has a chapter dedicated to them, which is an effective way to draw attention to the individuality and significance of each of their lives.

In becoming adults and transitioning to lives outside of the home, each young woman must get identification papers. Beth commits to assisting them and diPrete Brown describes the journey of each with heartfelt and honest portrayals.
While the book raises questions about the role of white, Western folks in the “saving” of those in developing countries, it isn’t a main point of the book. I felt Beth’s genuine care for the young women and her questioning of how far she should go to support and guide them.

Overall, this is a quick and engaging read that kept me interested and invested in the characters. It also left me with some questions about the role of Western volunteer programs in developing countries, but not in a negative way; I always have these questions on my mind!
I wonder how much has changed in the time since the story took place, especially in regards to these types of homes for orphaned girls and the status and opportunities for them in Honduras as they grow older. I would recommend this book to anyone who readers who have been in the Peace Corps, who have an appreciation for Central America, or anyone who digs travel books or memoirs, especially those with female main characters.

Top Nelson Mandela Sites to Visit in South Africa

There are plenty of reasons to visit South Africa: the landscape, the people, the food, the wildlife…all amazing. But no less deserving of your interest is South Africa’s rich, yet turbulent history. Between 1948 and 1994, the African majority of the country was under the stranglehold of apartheid, a legalized system of racism and oppression forced upon them by minority Afrikaners.

As you know, Nelson Mandela was one of the leaders of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. Under his inspired leadership, millions of people showed strength and resiliency through terrible violence, poverty, and discrimination.

My doctoral research studying South African libraries and their role in alleviating information inequality has taken me to this fascinating country six times. Throughout my travels, I have been able to visit many sites dedicated to Nelson Mandela’s life and legacy. Here are some that I suggest you visit on your next trip!

1. Robben Island, Cape Town

A must-see when in South Africa. Once a leper colony and a military base, Robben Island became the prison in which Mandela was held for 18 of his 27 years in captivity. From Cape Town’s lovely Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, visitors take a 45-minute ferry ride to the island, which offers outstanding views of Table Mountain! Once there, they begin on a guided bus tour to see military remnants, gravesites, and the community where many ex-employees of the prison still live.

After disembarking the bus, visitors are led on an extraordinary guided tour led by a former captive of the prison. To me, this is the best part of the tour: to hear what life was really like for the men held there, directly from the source. Visitors are able to hear about what prisoners ate, see where the slept and worked, and even see the cell in which Nelson Mandela himself was held. Overall, Robben Island should be on the top of your list when visiting South Africa. Tip: Get tickets online ahead of time so you are not disappointed. Fees charged; allow a half-day for the trip.

2. Mandela House, Vilakazi Street, Soweto
Head to 8115 Vilakazi Street in Soweto to visit the Mandela House Museum. Mandela lived in this house with his first and second wives, as well as briefly after his release from prison in 1990. It’s been restored to its 1946 state and for a modest fee, you can get an informative guided tour.

Vilakazi Street boasts the honor of being the only street in the world on which two Nobel Prize winners have lived. One is Mandela; do you know the other?? When there, be sure to walk the street, visit the vendors and get a bite to eat at Sakhumzi. Also visit The Hector Pieterson Museum (just a couple of blocks away on Moema and Vilakazi) and other area sights. Allow one hour for Mandela House or 2-4 hours for it and the broader Vilakazi Street area, or make this part of your day-long visit to Soweto!

3. Liliesleaf, Rivonia
A lesser-known but no-less important historical site outside of Johannesburg in Rivonia, Liliesleaf is where members of the African National Congress (ANC) hid out and met secretly during the height of the anti-apartheid movement. On 11 July 1963, Liliesleaf was raided and 19 ANC members were arrested and charged with sabotage and the resulting trial, dubbed the Rivonia Trial, would change South Africa forever. This is an interesting site and I highly recommend it. There are several buildings and the exhibits are very well-done. Guided or self-guided tours are available for an entrance fee. Allow around two hours to make your way through the grounds.
4. Apartheid Museum, Johannesburg
The Apartheid Museum is located in Johannesburg and is dedicated to telling the often heart-wrenching story of apartheid in South Africa. The museum is filled with exhibits that tell the full story of apartheid so that the visitor can get a look into what the system was really like. Effectively done, the museum is at once stark and full of hope. A special Mandela exhibit is not to be missed. Entrance for a fee; cafe and gift shop on site. Allow at least 2-3 hours.
5. Chancellor House, Johannesburg
Located in downtown Johannesburg, Chancellor House was the building that housed Mandela’s law practice with Oliver Tambo in the 1950s. Recently fully renovated, a pictorial timeline in the windows of the building is available for visitors to browse at no cost. Allow 30 minutes minimum.

6. Mandela Capture Site, Howick 
A bit off the beaten track, the Mandela Capture Site is affiliated with the Apartheid Museum, and totally worth the drive. Near Howick, between Johannesburg and Durban, the site is minimal but includes an exhibit as well as a beautiful and unique sculpture commemorating Mandela’s capture at the site in 1962. The site is free; allow one hour.

7. Constitution Hill, Johannesburg
Located in downtown Johannesburg, Constitution Hill is one of my favorite historical sites in South Africa. While it was once a fort and then a prison where many, including Mandela, spent time in transit to other prisons, in the 1990s it was chosen as the spot for the new Constitutional Court. Visitors can now get an informative guided tour of the complex’s buildings including the prison facilities as well as the new building where South Africa’s highest Court meets and hears cases. This is a building filled with symbolism, from the giant wood entry doors, to the bricks in the Court chamber. Fee-based; allow two hours minimum.
​These are only a few of the sites that commemorate Mandela and his fight for freedom in South Africa. Whether you can visit site one or all, you will find the spirit of Madiba graces every corner of this nation and lives on in the people who will never forget him.

Have you been to any of these sites? What are your favorites? Did I miss any? Please comment below!

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