Celebrating great Americans while touring around D.C.

The 10-year anniversary of the horrible events of Sept. 11, 2001 is almost upon us, and I have to admit that it feels really strange to be in Washington D.C. as the country prepares for what will surely be a day of remembrance, reflection and multiple tributes. (I also expect the ramped-up security around this city to be off the charts for the next two days.)

I spent quite a bit of time roaming around D.C. in the last two days and occupied much of my time at the Newseum, a six-story building that details the history of media and delves into how major stories were covered over the last several hundred years. (That’s not an exaggeration. There are archived articles from the 1600s available for perusal.) Everything from the Lindbergh baby kidnapping to Watergate to the J.F.K assassination to Katrina to 9/11…if it happened, it’s represented in the Newseum.

One of the most meaningful sections of the Newseum, for me, was the room dedicated to Tim Russert, NBC News’ Washington bureau chief and host of Meet the Press until his untimely death in 2008. The room is an authentic depiction of Russert’s office, and the walls are covered with pictures and video tributes to the longtime television journalist.

Tim Russert was a huge baseball fan. He kept this collection of baseballs in a drawer in his office and would have politicians sign them after he interviewed them.

One wall is dedicated to photos and video tributes detailing some of Russert's more famous interviews. One of the more well-known quotes was from Sen. John McCain, after finishing an interview with the hard-hitting and relentless Russert: "I haven't had so much fun since my last interrogation."

Russert's desk, exactly how he left it.

Other Newseum notables:

An actual mangled radio tower that stood atop one of the Twin Towers.

This sits in the very front of the FBI section of the Newseum.

It was nice to see the Newseum acknowledged what has always been a very true statement since the very beginning, but even moreso now with the advent of the Internet. In the last few years, sports media particularly has become more about being first than being right, which can be infuriating when trying to decipher what's true and what's bogus. Unfortunately, in today's age, there's plenty of bogus. Too much.

After finishing up the Newseum tour, I strolled down to the National Mall and Memorial Parks with the intent to check out the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.

The Memorial is brand new — so new that it’s not depicted on any city maps and there are no signs to direct tourists to the area. Finding it is a bit of a challenge, even for those who aren’t as directionally challenged as myself.

Needless to say, it was worth the trip. The statue is amazing. It truly takes your breath away.

Other cool city sights:

Capitol building, from a balcony at the Newseum.

White House

Washington Monument

Korean War Memorial


Next week, the Astros will celebrate the life, leadership and service of Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente with two community projects aimed at serving others.

In the spirit of Clemente’s community service, the Astros are hosting a food drive Monday through Wednesday for the Houston Food Bank. Fans can participate by bringing canned goods or other non-perishable food items with them to the games and they will be collected at the entrance gates.

Anyone donating to the food drive will receive a special discount ticket offer for the final home games of the season, September 22-25 vs. Colorado Rockies and September 26-28 vs. St. Louis Cardinals.

The following is a list of food items most needed by the programs served by the Houston Food Bank:

• Protein items
• Canned tuna or chicken, packed in water
• Canned stews and pasta/meat, easy on salt and fat
• Peanut butter
• Canned fruits in light syrup, natural applesauce
• 100% juice cans or boxes
• Canned vegetables, tomatoes, tomato sauce
• Soups with meat and/or beans, meal-in-a-can, easy on salt and fat
• Cereals and cereal bars, easy on sugar and fat
• Pasta, spaghetti, macaroni, noodles
• Packages of dry beans

For the safety of those they serve, the Houston Food Bank is unable to accept:
• Open packages
• Homemade food items
• Perishable foods
• Baby food
• Items with ‘expired’ dates

On Thursday, Sept. 15, Astros front office staff along with Spanish radio broadcasters Alex Trevino and Francisco Romero, working with the Tejano Center for Community Concerns, will provide and serve lunch to a group of approximately 50 elderly residents of the Nueva Vida senior citizen apartment community.  The Tejano Center for Community Concerns was established in 1992 in response to social, economic, education, and housing
concerns identified by neighborhood residents of the predominately Hispanic East End.  Many living at Nueva Vida make ends meet with the help of the Tejano Center for Community Concerns.

In addition to the food drive Sept. 12-14, benefiting the Montgomery County Food Bank and area wildfire victims, the Astros will activate additional relief efforts for fire victims throughout central Texas during the team’s final homestand.  Initial plans include:

* Online auction benefitting the Montgomery County United Way fund established for area fire victims, Sept. 19-28.
* Food, supplies and cash collection for the Montgomery County Food Bank, Sept. 23-25.
* Text-to-donate campaign to benefit the United Way Capital Area Texas Wildlife Relief Fund serving a 10-county area comprised of Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano, Travis, and Williamson counties.

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