I recently took a road trip with my wife to Washington, DC, and Philadelphia, PA, to take a deep dive into our nation’s history. We were gone for 10 days with small stops along the way to visit relatives and enjoy delicious cuisine. My wife called our road trip “my honeymoon,” considering I am not a huge fan of the beach and Punta Cana is pretty much all beach. It was my first time visiting both Washington and Philadelphia, which made the trip and experiences in both cities that much more special. What I took away from our complete journey was a deeper appreciation for this country and a new perspective on how Manchester handles things. Even though Manchester is much smaller and has a different demographic, it can still be compared to the bigger cities when looking at ways to improve them.
Washington, DC, is the home of our nation’s capital and where you will find important historical documents, government buildings, museums covering every topic, and our Founding Fathers’ monuments and statues. You can’t help but get a little emotional when first visiting sites like the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall. It really puts things in perspective and makes you look at our country a different way. As I walked up to good old honest Abe, I couldn’t help but stare in awe of his statue and no words needed to be said.
I got a similar feeling when entering Independence Hall in Philadelphia, where both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were debated over and signed. You could almost visualize each representative at their state table and hear the gavel call them to order. We were also able to visit the final burial site of Benjamin Franklin and four other signers of the Declaration of Independence. Graveyards in these historical cities were not just for burying people but to pay tribute to our nation’s past leaders. Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC, is an active cemetery, where people are still buried daily. It’s hard not to feel mournful of the fallen soldiers, leaders, and historical figures buried in these places but it is also important to understand their sacrifices.
While driving back to New Hampshire after our long journey, I reflected on the sites, statutes, documents, and gravestones we saw. Although Manchester does not have the amount of history that both Washington and Philadelphia have, it does have somethings in common.
The people in both cities were very kind, understanding, and accommodating to two sightseeing tourists from the Granite State. Everyone we told where we were from, they immediately seemed to have a greater respect for us. The day in Washington, DC, when we both wore our “Live Free or Die” shirts, people would stop us and say, “I love New Hampshire,” “The Granite State,” and “First in the nation.” It made us both proud to represent our state.
The walkability in both cities was another feature we appreciated while visiting the historical sites. Each street corner and major intersection had well labeled signs pointing people in the correct direction of their destination. Sidewalks were old but also wide open to both work commuters and tourists. Bike lanes were right along every roadway with signs dedicated to them. Even though we were in major cities, getting around in different types of transportation was quick and easy. This is something that Manchester has gotten better at but still has room for improvement. You may not think of these little things but when they are present to direct you, it makes getting around the city much easier.
Looking back at our road trip, I appreciate how we govern as a country and the people that got us here. New Hampshire played a big part in our history and I think Manchester can continue that legacy by expanding how we take on new opportunities. We may have our problems here, but we are not alone with those issues and if we look to the larger cities for assistance we can overcome any obstacle. Although we are considered Granite Staters here, we are all Americans and should appreciate the rights and responsibilities our founding fathers bestowed upon us.
Thanks for reading and until next week, live and be happy!
Ben Dion hosts The Weekly Dion live Thursdays at 6 p.m. on 95.3 FM WMNH, Manchester’s only downtown radio station. Follow him on Twitter @BenDionNH and @TheWeeklyDion. Contact Ben at firstname.lastname@example.org