Brian felt strongly that Travis and Abby have an opportunity to visit the museum even though he, Kellie, and I had been there years ago. (Personally, once was enough for me, but it is important that the younger ones really understand that terrifying time in world history.)
The museum has four floors. Visitors start at the top and work their way down. Just as we were finishing up the 3rd floor (which, by the way, is the most horrifying and impactful floor to me) we were told that we had to evacuate the museum. A bag had been left unattended and we had to leave NOW. Abby and cousin Kara were nearby, but Kellie and Travis were elsewhere on the floor. Brian went to search for them and I grabbed the two girls and headed for the stairs.
Everyone outwardly was very calm, although, inside my heart was racing as I grabbed each girls' hand and reassured them that everything would be OK. Uniformed officers ran up the stairs as we quickly descended. Images of the World Trade Center stairwells in 2001 ran through my mind as I searched for the first floor exit door as instructed. There was a bit of confusion as to which door it was, but soon we were all safely reunited outside.
|Brian, cousin Kara, Abby, Kellie, Travis|
My anxiety turned to curiosity as helicopters swooped, sirens blared, and police swarmed from every corner.
No one knew exactly what was going on or when we would be able to resume our tour (if at all) and not wanting to waste any precious minutes of our time in the Nation's Capital we decided to cross the Mall to the National Museum of American History--my FAVORITE of all the Smithsonians.
Later that afternoon the Holocaust Museum reopened and we were able to pick up where we left off. Travis and Abby found it very disturbing, of course, but at 16 and 13, we thought they could handle it. Abby said there were no words to describe what she saw--just scary, and Travis actually felt physically sick.
The atrocities of the Holocaust are hard for all of us to digest. Yet, if learning about it helps my children internalize the fact that we are ALL God's children no matter our race, color, religion, or sexual orientation, then that knowledge is invaluable. If they can value and respect EVERY human being, then I have done my job.