Can you say which was the best vacation/trip you have ever taken? Think about it.
Jim’s return to Iwo Jima two years ago was probably the best, most rewarding trip he had ever taken. So much healing took place when he honored his buddies who were killed there. This time he was not being shot at, so he was able to look around and see the scenery.
Over Memorial Day weekend, we were pleasantly surprised by our two young Marine lieutenants at Vance, our two adopted kids, Kim and Randy, Dr. Whitson, his wife and their three wonderful kids, with an expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. There were 11 in all, so we were able to fit into a 12-passenger bus for Randy to drive all over the city. We never once got lost.
We were told to reserve that weekend but we had no idea where we were going. We guessed Fredericksburg, Texas, Branson, Mo., and a few other places, but never in our wildest dreams did we think of a trip like that to our nation’s capital.
We flew from Tulsa directly to Washington and had a lovely flight. We picked up the van and went to our motel to freshen up for dinner. The boys had made reservations at the Globe and Laural restaurant, which is floor to ceiling with Marine memorabilia. There was a tornado warning out for the area and the lights went at out the restaurant, so everyone went home. The Marine lieutenants (who we fondly call “the boys”) called the restaurant to see if we were still on. They said all the patrons had gone home but the lights were back on and they were waiting for us. What a meal! What great service! What wonderful company! What an evening!
After a peaceful night’s rest and an enormous breakfast, we went directly to the Marine Museum at Quantico, Va. We all wore red shirts with “Operation Goodrich, USMC” on them. We were called the red shirts. We spent all morning there with a very informed docent who did a great job of describing each battle. We met a fellow Marine who also served on Iwo Jima. Jim relived his battles on Tarawa and Guadalcanal. We ate lunch in the mess hall. We went to the chapel and thanked God for the men who fought for such a great country as this, and for our freedoms and democracy.
In the afternoon we drove around Quantico Marine Base and saw where our boys had taken their OCS training. It is a beautiful base and we thoroughly enjoyed the personal tour and comments by our boys. That evening we drove into Washington to our hotel and enjoyed dinner there. Just the drive through the city was exciting to us. There is so much to see that is full of history.
Our second full day there we went to the Marine Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and saw the changing of the guard.
We walked through Arlington Cemetery that was decorated with many flowers and a flag on every grave. What a sight! We saw the Vietnam Memorial, the Korean Memorial, the Women of War Memorial, World War II Memorial and everything in between. We spent quite a bit of time at the Marine Memorial (flag raising on Iwo Jima), where Jim honored his buddies who were killed or wounded in that awful battle.
We saw the three helicopters that deliver our president to the area around the Tomb of the Unknown. We heard the band playing “Hail to the Chief,” but we did not see the president. We did, however, see Sara Palin at the World War II Memorial. She came over to Jim and thanked him for his service to this country. I was struck by how beautiful she is and so tiny. Her skin is flawless. She visited with us for quite a while and we were struck by her genuineness.
In Washington that weekend were thousands and thousands of motorcycles. They call themselves the “rolling thunder” and were there to support freedom. Many, many of them approached Jim and thanked him for his service during World War II. Jim, likewise, showed appreciation for their dedication and service to our country. Also many school children expressed their thanks for Jim’s service. He wore his cap that Kim had made for him with “Iwo Jima survivor” printed on the back and USMC, 5th division, WWII on the front of the cap. One could tell coming or going that Jim was an old veteran.
That night we went to China Town to eat a lovely dinner. Dr.Whitson ordered appetizers that we all enjoyed before our meals came. Then we ordered three desserts with 11 spoons. If one of us had had any disease, then we would all have it because we shared everything.
Sunday was a day of rest of sorts. We ate a scrumptious breakfast at a beautiful place in China Town. The maitre d’ was a Marine so we had exquisite service as well as food. Following breakfast we did not plan any real activities. Some of the bunch went shopping. Some just walked around D.C. Others just stayed in the beautiful hotel and enjoyed watching the people. Throughout the trip we were never without something wonderful to do. We never had a chance to catch our breath, much less get bored.
Jim and I have been on many trips. We have seen every section of the United States, Nova Scotia, Alaska and Jim has traveled the world. We can truthfully say, this trip was the most wonderfully planned, best trip we have ever been on together. The company was delightful and so helpful and fun. Our terrific travel companions took care of every detail. We will never be the same.
We took many, many pictures of everything in Washington, D.C. We saw as much as our eyes could take in. On the trip home our pilot (who was a Marine) announced to the passengers that Jim was a distinguished guest. He told everyone of his joining the Marines 70 years ago when he was 16 and what battles he fought in. He ended with “God bless the U.S. Marines. Semper fi.” That was the icing on the cake of a perfect trip. We count our blessings. We will never be able to repay our friends for this trip of a lifetime.
One of the desserts we all enjoyed was peanut butter pie. Hope you enjoy it like we did.
Patriotic Peanut Butter Pie
1⁄2 cup crunchy peanut butter
one package (eight ounces) cream cheese, softened
1⁄2 cup milk
one cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
one small carton whipped topping
one (10-inch) graham cracker crust
Blend first four ingredients well. Fold in whipped topping. Pour into pie crust.
Sprinkle with chopped roasted peanuts if desired. Chill.
Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.