Remembering Vietnam on Memorial Day

Heinz History Center is usually a fun little romp down memory lane, but this Memorial Day we visited a more somber exhibit – The Vietnam War: 1945-1975.

Heinz History Center is usually a fun little romp down memory lane, but this Memorial Day we visited a more somber exhibit – The Vietnam War: 1945-1975.

Developed in partnership with the New York Historical Society, the exhibit explores the years of US involvement in Indochina. The show highlights key players and turning points in the war and explores how it impacted our nation’s trust in government, economics, and popular culture.

That’s me loosely quoting the promotional material about the exhibit. Personally, I found it grim and depressing, like the war itself. My memories of Vietnam are those of a 9-year-old child whose big brother was over there: drawing pictures to include with the care packages of Hellman’s mayonnaise, tuna fish and Jif peanut butter my mom sent him, being shushed every time the news came on, and the Tet Offensive when the area we’d last known him to be in was bombed and no one could locate him. My mother dove for the phone every time it rang. Thank God, my brother made it home. But the fact that thousands of other boys died in a senseless “conflict” breaks my heart.

I went into the exhibit with the intention of sharing some photos and interesting things I learned, but I just couldn’t muster the emotional energy to do so. For those of you who are interested in visiting the exhibit on your own, it continues through September 22, 2019. Museum admission is $18 for adults, $15 for seniors, and $9 for students and children. Active and retired military will receive half-off admission through the dates of the exhibition with free admission offered on Independence Day.

What I did enjoy: the flag folding ceremony

The History Center holds a flag folding ceremony in the museum’s Great Hall three times a year: Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Veterans Day. We were on hand for this moving spectacle in which 50 or so museum visitors helped unfold a 36-foot American flag and held it aloft while a bugler played “Taps” in memory of the men and women who have died while serving in the U.S. military. Tear-inducing for sure, especially when noticing the retired servicemen in the crowd.

 Fellow museum visitors unfurl the flag.
Fellow museum visitors unfurl the flag.

Blown away by the Windy City

We packed a lot into our long weekend in Chicago! The theater, museums, a Cubs game, rooftop bars, walks along Lake Shore Drive, and a river cruise all enjoyed in the midst of a crazy nationwide heat wave.

We left Pittsburgh around 10 a.m. and made it to Hilton’s Magnificent Mile Suites by 6.  Our progress was slowed a bit because we had to make some stops for our traveling companion, Dot. (Since this was a spur of the moment trip, our usual sitter wasn’t available. Luckily, Dottie is a good traveler and hotels are a lot more accommodating than they used to be. The Hilton charged just $75 additional for the entire four-night stay.)

Have you “bean” to the Cloud Gate in Millennium Park?

We packed a lot into our long weekend in Chicago! The theater, museums, a Cubs game, rooftop bars, walks along Lake Shore Drive, and a river cruise all enjoyed in the midst of a crazy nationwide heat wave.

We left Pittsburgh around 10 a.m. and made it to Hilton’s Magnificent Mile Suites by 6.  Our progress was slowed a bit because we had to make some stops for our traveling companion, Dot. (Since this was a spur of the moment trip, our usual sitter wasn’t available. Luckily, Dottie is a good traveler and hotels are a lot more accommodating than they used to be. The Hilton charged just $75 additional for the entire four-night stay.)

 

Once we got Dot situated, we set out to explore. Our hotel was just off of Michigan Avenue, or the Magnificent Mile, which is renowned for its upscale shopping. (Chicago’s version of Fifth Avenue, maybe?) The first item on the Chicago must-do list was deep dish pizza!  Bella Bacino was recommended to us by our daughter’s friend who lives in the city. After a pleasant half-mile walk (the Sahara-like temperatures hadn’t arrived yet), we snagged a table on the sidewalk overlooking the Chicago River.  My usual go-to pizza is Neapolitan-style from the Jersey shore and I was afraid the pies in Chicago might have more in common with the thick, overly bread-y Sicilian’s I’ve tried. Not so!  Yes, it’s a thick slab of pizza, but instead of gobs of bread you get gobs of cheese! Perfection! 

We also loved Bella Bacino’s sun-dried tomato focaccia bread (which I plan to try making myself one day and will share in a future post if it’s any good!)

The next morning we got up early trying to beat the heat for a walk along Lake Michigan. There was no beating the heat, but we did get a good workout along the wide paved promenade and enjoyed beautiful views of the city.

In the afternoon, we headed back to the Chicago River to take the best tour in the city (according to TripAdvisor), the First Lady River Cruise.  The 90-minute tour is narrated by volunteer docents from Chicago’s Architecture Foundation and highlights the most important buildings here in the birthplace of the skyscraper. Does that sound as dry as dust? Somehow, it wasn’t. Our guy’s enthusiasm was infectious and the soaring buildings are even more impressive when you hear the stories behind them. My two favorites were 150 N. Riverside, which balances on a wedge-shaped base:

and River Point, which features arched cutouts at the top and bottom.

 

Chicago isn’t the most walkable city in the world because it’s huge! 227 square miles vs. Pittsburgh’s cozy 55.  But it is laid out in a grid (Pittsburgh, not so much) and it’s flat (Pittsburgh, hahahahaha). From our location on the Magnificient Mile, everything we wanted to see (with the exception of Wrigley Field) was less than a mile away, which for us is walkable. We hoofed it to the Art Institute of Chicago, Millennium Park, and the American Writers Museum. To get to the Cubs game, we took the L and the night we saw Hamilton we used Uber, but only because the heat index was 100 F and I was wearing heels.  

We had a great time in this fabulous friendly city.

Until next time Chicago!

 Rooftop bars - best place to enjoy a cocktail at sunset! This is the drumBAR.
Rooftop bars – best place to enjoy a cocktail at sunset! This is the drumBAR.

 The John Hancock Center
The John Hancock Center
Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started