The Rev. Casey dunsworth

serves as Associate Campus Pastor to the Belfry, the Lutheran-Episcopal Campus Ministry to UC Davis

and as Program Director for LEVN, the Lutheran Episcopal Volunteer Network.

A week in our nation's capitol.

Okay so I was a little ambitious with that "day one" thing and intended to be posting every day...which obviously did not occur. But seriously this was a fantastic trip. I neglected to mention in my previous post that I fell down the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial. Obviously I survived but it seriously hurt and I have serious bruises. Sick life.

If you are my friend on Facebook, you can see all of the pictures that we took in DC. If you are not, you are a stranger and therefore all you get are these instagrams. <3

Saturday we saw the Nationals and Padres play at Nationals Park! It was a billion degrees but our seats were covered and then it rained a little and was ultimately weather confusing. But sitting in a ballpark is a sort of home for me (even a park I've never been to), so this was a lovely afternoon. And my Padres even won!

That afternoon we scoped some museums and then had dinner at this AMAZING mediterranean tapas place. And I got to eat Hünkar Beğendi -- the most delicious lamb/eggplant/yum we ate in İstanbul that I didn't think I would ever eat again -- plus amazing falafel and spanakopita and fattoush! It was joyous. Plus, dinner conversation with the five of us is never far from lively. Look for Krystal Rose and Bambi LaFontana at Open Pole Nights near you.

Then, Sunday morning was spent at the Holy Grail that is the Truman Bowling Alley! It's in the basement of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, and only the coolest politicians and friends of White House staffers (haha) get to the bowl there! It was so so so fun.

After bowling we went to actual church at the National Cathedral. Holy wow. It was so beautiful and the stained glass was incredible...I wasn't feeling well so I didn't take a lot of pictures. But google it or something. And as we were looking at them, this older man came up to us to explain what was going on in the glass. We were looking at one of the Flood (which was pretty clear) and he told us the story, then took us over to see the coolest window -- space travel! The weird part, though, was that he just talked to Fletcher, not me. As though obviously Fletcher, as the man, would be the one interested in the information, and would then relay it to me. In this situation, I'd consider myself the one with the expertise. He had no way of knowing that, of course, but it was awkward behavior on his part all the same.

After church we had some down time at our hotel before going over to Amanda's lovely apartment for dinner and games. Yumm, foods.

Aforementioned games consisted of a few rounds of Clue, during which Pammie fell asleep and my mom inadvertently sabotaged the whole game by lying at the beginning about whether or not she had Mrs. Peacock. Oh, Mama.

Then on Monday (Memorial Day) we went on a tour of the Capitol Building. So beautiful. There's this "orientation video" at the beginning that sort of explains why we have this building and the five-minute version of why we have a Congress. The Capitol is a representation of our government of the people, by the people, for the people. But it seems that in recent years, we've perverted that. The video displayed the titles of a lot of really important legislation over the years. Each time, it seemed, certain unalienable rights had been unfairly denied people by their fellow countrymen, and congress had made sure that stopped happening. Now, it seems, congress takes it upon itself to deny people their rights. This is very sad.

The rotunda!

After the capitol, we went to the beautiful Library of Congress and walked past the Supreme Court. Washington is full of seriously epic buildings.

On Tuesday, we went to Arlington National Cemetery, and a weird thing happened. I am seriously going to remember this for the rest of my life and tell it to everyone and always feel...weird about it. On our way to Arlington on the Metro, we saw a young man in his shiny Navy whites. He was in seriously pristine condition all around. He didn't sit or touch anything on the Metro because it is dirty and he was so impeccably dressed, haha. I noticed that he was pretty new to the service because he only had like one or two decorations on his uniform. [Disclaimer: I don't know anything about military ranks or uniforms or medals or seriously anything. I don't know what to call him and so I will just say sailor and hope that that is not super offensive.] I hoped that his name tag would say his rank on it, but apparently in the military you can tell ranks by what uniforms look like, so that's not necessary. It just had his last name on it. It was an unusual last name, and so I committed it to memory for no reason other than that I'm creepy. He got off at the Pentagon to do some important Pentagon-y business. He was probably barely older than I am. An hour or so later, as we're walking from the Kennedy grave sites to the Tomb of the Unknowns, I saw a giant headstone with that same sailor's last name on it in huge letters. I'm comfortable assuming they're related. But what are the odds of that? That I'd see that sailor on the train, notice his name, then happen on the tomb of his veteran relative at Arlington?

I think we're all aware that I have a lot of conflicting feelings about the military in general. I don't want us to ever have to go to war, but I understand that we've made that a necessary component of global society. And even when we're fighting wars we shouldn't be fighting, brave Americans have to go and do that fighting. San Diego has a large military population surrounding our bases, but it's not like we're a "military town" in any sense that I feel. I have one friend from high school (that I'm aware of) currently serving in the Navy, and I am so proud of him for that. [When I saw this kid on the train, I immediately thought of Jake.] But I almost don't make the connection that these two men in their crisp uniforms are those same men [and women] on the ground in Afghanistan. There's really a cognitive leap there, for me.

And so I'm one of those people who doesn't support wars but supports troops. What does that even mean? I didn't support the troops who got to Baghdad and shot at Qur'ans and baptized each other in the fountains in Saddam's palace. I didn't support the troops who killed innocent families in their homes. But I support Jake and I support this young sailor for being a part of a tradition in their families and courageously protecting their country. I really, truly, support that.

The Tomb of the Unknowns was a really beautiful experience. It was like 95 degrees out and these beautiful soldiers were clicking along their 21 steps and waiting their 21 seconds without a hitch. And the changing of the guards was so impressive -- all three soldiers involved were very impressive. They were covered in medals and all sorts of things. [Again, the disclaimer.] It should also be noted that no one gets like, relegated to guard the Tomb of the Unknowns. It is a prestigious assignment, of which you can tell they are very proud. 

After Arlington we went to the Thomas Jefferson memorial, which is so perfect. Thomas Jefferson was a rad, dude, guys. He wrote some of the most important words in the history of our nation. He wrote the Declaration of Independence! No big deal. He wrote about those truths that we find to be self-evident. And about liberty and responsibility and knowledge...he's a "founding father" I think we should all get behind. 

Being in Washington was a confusing experience on the whole, though. My two great passions in this world are religion and politics. My undergraduate degree is in Religion, and I'm in the process of a Masters degree in the same vein. So you know where I spend most of my time. Politics has become really just a hobby and conversation topic and a blog topic. And I watch CNN and MSNBC like it's my J-O-B. But walking down the streets of our nation's capitol felt almost like a taste of another life. If I'd studied politics in college instead...would I be in Washington, now? Would I be a grad intern in some giant Department of Something building? Would it be me sweating to death (and in heels!) on the Metro?

I would never say that I am dissatisfied with where I am, academically, right now. Studying in Berkeley is so wonderful. But a part of me that I didn't even know was laying low came ALIVE this week. And I have to honor that. I have to figure out a way to feed that. I have to figure out a way to get there.

A sad side of Twitter.

Turpins take DC, day one.