Our Amazing Adventure in Washington D.C. Part Three: The Berlin Wall and The Newseum


The Berlin Wall

There are several threads to this part of the adventure, and again one of them weaves my father Ed Reep’s art into the story.  We’ve been to Washington many times and we went for a specific purpose this time, which I haven’t even blogged about yet.  The one sight we hadn’t seen and wanted to see was the Newseum.  First, though, we saw my father’s World War II work, produced when he was a soldier and war artist with the 5th Army in Italy, at the Army Art Archives. And we also saw this.

In the Army Art Archives

That’s my husband and me standing in front of two large paintings of the Berlin Wall.  Sometime in the 1970s I think, the Army recommissioned my father as a brigadier general and sent him to Germay to paint his impressions of the Wall.  The paintings are stunning.


There were also a number of drawings.  So that was something we didn’t expect to see.

We made it over to the Newseum, which is spectacular.

The Newseum


And were unexpectedly greeted by the…


Eight sections of the wall were on display as well as a large guard tower.  It was surreal to imagine a city cut in half and living in the shadow of a wall.

So far, there seemed to be a lot of synchronicity in this visit.

If anyone has seen the movie Goodbye Lenin, the next photo will elicit a chuckle.  This real-life scene figured in a funny yet poignant scene in the movie.

So we got a double dose of the Berlin Wall – the real thing and the Wall as recorded by my father while visiting the real thing.  But on to the Newseum.

The purpose of the Newseum is to tell the story of news and how it has been reported since the printed word was first able to be spread.  Starting with the first papers up through modern times an impressive array of front pages has been assembled.  I found these interesting.

Guy Fawkes caught my eye because there were people at Occupy Wall Street in masks I didn’t recognize and I believe they were from Guy Fawkes and the gunpowder plot.

The lighting was very dim in this particular exhibit to preserve the media.

The exterior of the museum and again on the 6th floor is the Front Pages Gallery.  Every morning before the museum opens, the front page of a newspaper from every one of the 50 states is printed and put on display.

It’s pretty awesome.  There are interactive displays where you can find the front page from any paper in the nation so I found our Bakersfield Californian and one from Wyoming where one of our daughters lives.

If editors make good choices, headlines and photos can tell us much about the tenor of the times.  I think The Bakersfield Californian made a particularly good choice the day we were there.  I was not a particular fan of President Bush, but I would have never shaken my finger at him and given him a scolding.  What bad form!  Yet Obama seems to be responding with concern and dignity.

All kinds of things were tucked into the Newseum as they traced news from the beginning through the digital age.  Tim Russert’s office was recreated – or rather moved just as it was when he died – over here.  There was an FBI and the News exhibit and for some reason the Unibomber’s cabin was there as well as a mock-up of the shoe bomber’s shoes – which were quite complex!  And the Greensboro lunch counter was here – one of the places the civil rights movement began with sit-ins.

By then, television news was starting to influence events unlike in any other time in history and nothing would be the same.

The Newseum also has an exciting array of Pulitzer Prize winning photographs, an excellent First Amendment exhibit, and an interactive ethics center.  There’s an interactive newsroom – so so much.  It took us an entire day and part of another and we still weren’t done.  I haven’t mentioned nearly everything there is to see.

One unfortunate feature that they are particularly proud of is a 4 D movie that everyone is strongly encouraged to see.  Much is made about “be careful if you’re pregnant or have back problems,” etc. so we were ready for some excitement.  The seat lurched a few times.  Well, lurched is too strong a word.  It was lame.  That’s the only thing I can say.  Anti-climactic.  The movie itself started off strong and then kind of stopped.  So spend your Newseum time on anything but the 4D movie!

So far, this trip had exhibited unexpected synchronicity topped off by the Berlin Wall, and we hadn’t even reached the event that brought us to Washington in the first place.  That’s next.



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One Response to “Our Amazing Adventure in Washington D.C. Part Three: The Berlin Wall and The Newseum”

  1. Ron Carpenter says:

    Thanks, first of all, for publishing your blog…it is fun to read about your experiences. I just received the September 2012 issue of “Call To Duty,” the newsletter of the Capital Campaign for the national Museum of the United States Army being built at Fort Belvoir. Two of the eight pages in the newsletter are devoted to a story about your father. “Patrol -First Snow” is featured on the 2012 ornament for the Museum and can be ordered online at http://www.armyhistory.org.

    I love original art, so read the article, then looked online for more information about your father’s wartime work and his experiences. Your blog says it all. The Berlin Wall story caught my attention because of a visit I made to East Berlin in 1963 with a group of West Point Cadets. We were on a school bus driven by a US Army driver who took as through Checkpoint Charlie (possibly the only passable gate in The Wall) from West Berlin into East Berlin to visit the war memorial in the center of the city. We were stopped at the checkpoint for East German military guards to inspect the bus, an unnecessary ritual since our arrival was prearranged and authorized. One of the guards started to open the back door (emergency exit) of the bus and our driver yelled at us to close the door because that wasn’t an authorized activity. We slammed the door and accidentally caught the guards hand in the door. The driver lurched the bus forward, and drug the poor guard for half a block before the driver would stop to open the door and free the guard. We learned that this sort of cat and mouse game happened all of the time when trying to pass through The Wall. Thank goodness for Ronald Reagan, Gorbachev, and those who took down the wall.

    One last comment…about our dear Governor being photographed with her finger pointing at Pres. Obama’s face. It is an unfortunate picture, because she is not that kind of person. She later reported that they were having an amiable conversation when the photo was snapped. I think you would actually like her, but she does talk with her hands, and this time people got an impression of her that, although incorrect, was misinterpreted by every news agency in the country. She was raised by a single mother in a very poor family in Nevada. She determined at an early age to make her way in the world by her own grit and gumption, and as the Governor of Arizona, has proven she can hold her own. She is folksy and plain-spoken, and has kept the state out of financial distress during the past 4 years, which is more than can be said of her predecessor who squandered the so-called “rainy day fund” designed to keep the government solvent and running during bad times. Please don’t judge her manners too harshly.

    Thanks for letting me ramble. Tell your father thanks for his service and his art. From one veteran to another, may God bless and keep you.

    Cheers, Ron C.

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