National Geographic : 1964 Dec
Washington's stately white home by the Potomac, had an air of changeless nobility, with its red-shingled roof and its dark boxwoods grown great with the years. It was almost as if the man who had given Washington its birth and name still lived within. The helicopter flight illustrated a striking aspect of Washington's explosive growth: The Federal Govern ment itself, to avoid strangulation, has taken to subur ban life. Around and beyond the Capital Beltway, I had picked out several Government giants now settled in rural surroundings: the huge Atomic Energy Com mission headquarters in Germantown, Maryland; the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Virginia; the sprawling complex of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Independent though Washington's smaller neigh bors are, all share a bond with the Capital. "We feel the way one might about a brother in the family," a resident of McLean, Virginia, who works in Washington, told me recently. "You don't always get along with him at home, but to outsiders he's the best in the world. Here at home I'm strictly a McLean man, and Washington is just something across the river. But the farther away I get-say, Chicago or San Francisco-the more I'm a Washingtonian and proud of it." In a nuclear age, suburban Washingtonians know only too well that their lot is cast with the Capital's. A friend of mine tells of a sobering moment one night during a dinner party at his former home in Dranes ville, Virginia, some 20 miles upriver. After dinner the guests gathered on the terrace, and talk turned to the cold war. Suddenly on my friend's right, in the direction of Washington, came a blinding greenish flash. A few seconds later it came again, and my friend had visions of a nuclear holocaust. "Sally, what's that?" he said, startled. "Bob," answered his wife, "sit still a minute-you have a firefly on your glasses." Old Stone Marker Recalls District's Birth Of all Washington's neighbors, Alexandria, Virginia, is closest to the Capital in a historical sense. Once part of the Federal City's 100-square-mile domain, the community parted company with Washington in 1846, when the Federal Government, petitioned by residents of Alexandria, returned the state's 31 square miles of District territory. Washington, D. C., legally shrank to its present 69 square miles, and Alexandrians got their city back. Alexandria still has its Federal mementos. One of them, a 170-year-old stone post marking the south ernmost corner of the District of Columbia, is little remembered and rarely visited today. The post, or cornerstone, stands beside the Potomac below Alex andria, with the abandoned Jones Point lighthouse, a wooden building dating back to the 1850's. 768 Eternal flame marks the grave of John F. Kennedy in snow-mantled Arlington National Cemetery. Eight million mourners have visited the hill site below the Custis-Lee Mansion, onetime home of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. "I could stay up here forever," President Kennedy once said of the knoll, which commands a sweeping view of the Capital City. Established as a military cemetery in 1864, Arlington today has nearly 128,000 markers laid out in neat white rows. Unknown servicemen of World War I, World War II, and Korea rest here. Each Memorial Day and Veter ans Day, the Nation honors its fallen with ceremonies in Arlington Me morial Amphitheater. Candle to memory: a young Wash ingtonian pays homage to his mar tyred President. He joined thousands in a candlelight service at the Lincoln Memorial on December 22, 1963, the end of the official mourning period for Mr. Kennedy. EKTACHROMESBY NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC PHOTOGRAPHERS ROBERT F. SISSON (RIGHT) AND EMORY KRISTOF (C) N.G.