D.C. in Photos: Our Significant Leaders

Looking down from the pinnacle of the Washington Monument on a warm and getting sunnier Easter Sunday morning, I spied a musical stage on the lawn down below. On the way up from our hotel on F and 7th, I’d already told my dear wife Karen how during my D.C. days living a few miles over the line first as a student at the University of Maryland in College Park and then as a journalist at the Prince George’s Journal, my roommates and I had stood on that ground of God’s green grass to witness what I believe to be the first Mall concert to celebrate our Earth Day.

Site of Earth Day concert in my time?

Site of Earth Day concert in my time?

I can’t be sure this stage is on the same spot, but I can think back more than 35 years to remember the music of Jackson Browne and the Beach Boys and more on a previous full day of important messages in the sun on these significant grounds.

The first Earth Day was in 1970. April 22 marks the 45th. It will be honored worldwide. I consider the Earth to be one our significant leaders, surely.

Beyond the stage, we spotted the Tidal Basin, ringed by monuments. Off to the other direction was the Reflecting Pool, surrounded by memorials. The Cherry Blossom Festival sprouted along the grounds, even though the trees were only in semi-salute because of the harsh east coast winter.

Our mission: Walk many miles. Appreciate many things.

Jefferson Memorial

Approaching the Tidal Basin loop clockwise, the huge tribute to Thomas Jefferson was the first destination.

Stately.

Stately.

From the National Park Service site:

“The Thomas Jefferson Memorial, modeled after the Pantheon of Rome, is America’s foremost memorial to our third president. As an original adaptation of Neoclassical architecture, it is a key landmark in the monumental core of Washington, D.C. The circular, colonnaded structure in the classic style was introduced to this country by Thomas Jefferson. Architect John Russell Pope used Jefferson’s own architectural tastes in the design of the Memorial. His intention was to synthesize Jefferson’s contribution as a statesman, architect, President, drafter of the Declaration of Independence, adviser of the Constitution and founder of the University of Virginia. Architects Daniel P. Higgins and Otto R. Eggers took over construction upon the untimely death of Pope in August 1937. The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Commission was created to direct the erection of a memorial to Thomas Jefferson by an Act of Congress approved in June 1934. The present-day location at the Tidal Basin was selected in 1937. The site caused considerable public criticism because it resulted in the removal of Japanese flowering cherry trees from the Tidal Basin.”

Once greenlighted by President FDR, construction started in 1941. They went all out.

Grand.

Grand.

Picturesque.

Picturesque.

Educational.

Educational.

Inside the memorial, I had to summon my inner daddy and politely tell a perhaps-kindergarten-aged girl to get down off the Jefferson statue and come back out from inside the chains. Her father picked up on my cue and asked her what she thought the chains meant. Her mother gave me a look. It was a sign of how people think these memorials really are our property. All day long, folks interacted freely with statues, marble and granite.

Roosevelt Memorial

We almost missed the spread-out grounds that pay tribute to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. But a look to the left from the main path gave us a glimpse of a sign saying pagoda ahead, and we took that route instead.

FDR's wall of quotes.

Illustrative.

According to the NPS site:

“Franklin Roosevelt remains intimately connected to the National Park Service. During a speech in 1936, President Roosevelt noted the special quality of national parks by stating that ‘there is nothing so American.’ He captured the essential truth of the agency by declaring, ‘the fundamental idea behind the parks … is that the country belongs to the people, that it is in process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us.’ “

Speaks to me.

Open.

Lean on me.

Supportive.

Fit right in.

Friendly.

I had to wait it out, oh, two or three minutes as a parade of people took turns ducking between the Depression-era people above to have their pictures taken. I wanted a clean shot.

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Memorial was strikingly different and beautiful, with a towering statue of the statesman of my days to greet me off the path at the end of the Tidal Basin. My time within these grounds filled me with the feeling of gratitude and despair, hope and reality, optimism and something a bit less. Seeing the plaque with the late Reverend’s speech from Alabama in 1963, this memorial spoke to me most in my here and now. I remembered the night he was assassinated, and I thought about how far we’ve come, how much we backtracked, how far we have to go …

Grand.

Dreamer.

According to the NPS site:

“Aug. 28, 2011, the 48th anniversary of the groundbreaking March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, witnessed the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. It is fitting that on this date, reminiscent of the defining moment in Dr. King’s leadership in the Civil Rights movement; in the form of solid granite, his legacy is further cemented in the tapestry of the American experience. His leadership in the drive for realization of the freedoms and liberties laid down in the foundation of the United States of America for all of its citizens, without regard to race, color, or creed is what introduced this young southern clergyman to the nation. The delivery of his message of love and tolerance through the means of his powerful gift of speech and eloquent writings inspire to this day, those who yearn for a gentler, kinder world . His inspiration broke the boundaries of intolerance and even national borders, as he became a symbol, recognized worldwide of the quest for civil rights of the citizens of the world.”

Welcoming

Welcoming.

Relevant.

Relevant.

Thought-provoking.

Thought-provoking.

World War II National Memorial

Off the start of the Reflecting Pool, the grounds of World War II Memorial is massive. One end reads Pacific, the other Atlantic. Between, the ring includes the names of the states and territories represented by soldiers during that biggest of wars. A huge fountain shooting water high into a wide and shallow pool in the middle of the memorial reminded me of how those who fought this war freed so many from tyranny and delivered hope and beauty instead.

Dominant.

Dominant.

According to NPS:

“Service, Sacrifice, Unity, and Victory —
Through stone architecture and bronze sculptures, the World War II Memorial recognizes the ways Americans served, honors those who fell, and recognizes the victory they achieved to restore freedom and end tyranny around the globe.”

Expansive.

Expansive.

Triumphant.

Triumphant.

Joyful.

Joyous.

Lincoln Memorial

Make sure your shoes are tied tightly before heading up the steps to the Lincoln Memorial. The massive edifice anchors one end of the Reflecting Pool. The steps to reach the seated statue of the bearded president within it are many and ominous.

Grand.

Grand.

According to NPS:

“Abraham Lincoln’s contemporaries did not require historical perspective to recognize his monumental impact on the nation. Lincoln not only saved the Union, preserving both its government and boundaries, he reinvigorated the nation’s founding principle — that all men are created equal. No national memorial had been contemplated for any president except George Washington, yet talk of building one to Lincoln began even as he lingered on his deathbed. There was an obvious appropriateness to the concept that Lincoln, the preserver of the Union, should join Washington, the founder of that Union, in being honored on the National Mall. Even the location of the Lincoln Memorial reflects this great symmetry in thought and design. The Capitol Building lies on a direct line with the monument to Washington, the president at the time Capitol construction was begun, and with the memorial to Lincoln, the president at the time the Capitol finally was completed.”

Looming.

Looming.

Get to the top of the steps. Go inside and marvel. Come back outside. Look across. Look down. Marvel much more.

Reverential.

Reverential.

Artistic

Impactful.

Korean War Veterans Memorial

Over to one flank of the Reflecting Pool sits this striking triangle to the conflict that came just before my lifetime. The Korean War Veterans Memorial includes multiple statues of soldiers advancing across a natural field. It literally gave me goosebumps as I stood there imagining the real thing, so lifelike they were in action of service. Prisoner of War flags flew with the American flags. Easter bouquets were placed among the perimeter by families. I also imagined that many of those who gave their lives or are missing would still be living today.

Realistic.

Realistic.

From the memorial’s site:

“The Korean War Veterans Memorial is located near the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. It was dedicated on July 27, 1995. The memorial commemorates the sacrifices of the 5.8 million Americans who served in the U.S. armed services during the three-year period of the Korean War. The war was one of the most hard-fought in our history. During its relatively short duration from June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953, 54,246 Americans died in support of their country. Of these, 8,200 are listed as missing in action or lost or buried at sea. In addition 103,284 were wounded during the conflict.”

Sorrowful.

Sorrowful.

Accessible.

Accessible.

Popular.

Popular.

There was a steady line up and down the pathway at the Korean War Veterans Memorial, and I overheard many comments about how impactful the soldier statues in the field were to my fellow visitors.

Vietnam War Memorial

The Wall has become famous in our lifetime because so many families come to mourn the loss of the loved ones whose names are etched upon it for losing their lives in the Vietnam War. This expanse of ground reflects the grieving and loss and was dotted with flowers and flags stuck into the foot of the wall.

Reflective.

Reflective.

According to NPS:

“Located north of the Lincoln Memorial near the intersection of 22nd St. and Constitution Ave. NW, Vietnam Veterans Memorial is free to visit and is open 24 hours a day. The memorial includes the names of over 58,000 servicemen and women who gave their lives in service in the Vietnam Conflict. The memorial also includes “The Three Servicemen” statue and the Vietnam Women’s Memorial.”

Alluring.

Alluring.

Lonely.

Lonely.

Sad.

Sad.

Walking the Wall reminded me again that all of this happened in my lifetime. I saw the fighting and heard about the loss of life on the news, read about the protests and rallied with my classmates in school as we worried about war. I practically simultaneously breathed a sigh of relief about the end of the draft and let out a cheer for the halt of the fighting. It was that personal to me then. And to so many people touching the engraved names of loved ones lost and pressing down flowers and flags into the little piece of earth below this Wall, it still is.

Coming tomorrow: Cherry Blossom Festival

See Friday: The White House

If you’ve visited memorials and monuments, what struck you the most, and why? What would you like to see for the first time and again, and why? Which of my photos is your favorite, and why?

Advertisements

71 thoughts on “D.C. in Photos: Our Significant Leaders

  1. I think I have said on my blog that I love the WW2 memorial.

    Nothing tells you the power of the Vietnam memorial than a hundred plus eighth graders, who have been pretty noisy most of the day, going completely silent. My father was a Vietnam veteran, so I knew The Wall was significant but to see these kids catch on to that immediately was amazing. (they behaved at all the memorials, but this had the largest reaction).

    Before we loaded back on the buses home, the kids’ history teacher had them all stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and recite the part of the “I have a dream…” speech that they had to memorize for class earlier that month. Can’t say it went well, with people stopping and starting and stumbling on words, but it was still quite a sight πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • A living lesson like that is what those eighth graders will never forget, my friend. Thanks for sharing that anecdote. I wish I would have seen something akin to that group lesson on Sunday to capture for this post, in fact! Yes, all of the memorials had something unique about them. That was one of my favorite takeaways from the day is how individual they all were.

      Like

  2. wow, Mark, that is so amazing. The Lincoln memorial and the Vietnam War memorial wall I had heard about but of the rest I was ignorant, I am ashamed to say Truly awe inspiring and humbling. I love that FDR quote about men and nature working in hand, I hadn’t come across that before. A very moving blog. Thank you Mark.

    Like

    • Thank you for your praise, Roy. I wanted to be able to teach my friends from around the world with this one, just by sharing through my eyes what they haven’t had the chance to experience. Your reaction means so much to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What an overwhelming image of the price of freedom, all the young lives lost. I can’t get too deep in despair and grief or I would never come out. Those memorials would follow me for days and weeks, and it would really chap my hide if kids were allowed to climb them, devoid of respect.

    Like

    • You and I are very much alike regarding that, Kerbey. The line regarding cute family photo opps was being crossed more at the presidential memorials. Thankfully, the war memorials were treated far more reverentially by visitors of all ages during my time there.

      Liked by 1 person

    • The World War II memorial is so large, and it just reminded me of how much was gained by that victory, Joey, that caption said it all to me. Thanks for your comment of agreement.

      Like

  4. You had a great day MBM. The pictures are amazing. I love and appreciate your reverence. I don’t have “a” favorite. I like the Depression Era people in line at the door, I like the Korean War monument soldiers, and the Vietnam War Memorial, and are the 2 soldiers together also of the Vietnam Memorial? And thank you for speaking up and reminding the child that the memorial wasn’t a toy, it was the parents responsibility to teach that. Thank you for teaching the parent.

    Like

    • It was a full and rewarding day of lessons for us all the way around, MBC. I like to be reminded that learning is lifelong. This Sunday I was clobbered. Thanks for all your kind words, here, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Well done, Mark … Korea always gets to me, with its eerie, larger than life figures tromping through rain. I’ve missed the FDR memorial somehow, so that’s on my next trip’s to-see list.

    Like

    • Looking toward Jefferson, FDR is on the right side of the Tidal Basin. It was far different than all the rest, in little “pods,” if you will. Interesting. Thank you for pointing out your interest in the Korean War Memorial in your blog months (a year?) ago. I made sure to circle back that way from Lincoln because of that, and was very glad I did so, Jim. It was inspiring.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love everything about this post, especially the one word adjectives for each photo. I didn’t have access to answer yesterday’s question, but the short of it is that I’ve written before about having a bologna sandwich sitting on the lawn of the Washington Monument on a school field trip and dreaming of growing up to work here . . . and now I do. I remember that bologna sandwich every time I take a lunchtime or after-work stroll over to stand in front of the White House and think.

    A couple of years ago during the Occupy movement, the younger Occupy-ers were over at McPherson Square and the older, more hippy-ish ones were camped out on Freedom Plaza (near the White House). One day Jackson Browne showed up and performed a surprise concert for them. SO mad I wasn’t taking a lunchtime stroll that day.

    Sounds like you had such a whirlwind of a good time and you saw so much!

    Like

    • Best bologna sandwich ever, Hippie. Take that, Oscar Meyer.

      I wish you had taken a lunchtime stroll that day, too. We would all have benefited from that experience with a post, I bet.

      We had quite a day of see, see, see, Hippie. I was fortunate enough to grab a lot of photos and have the reporter’s memory/editor’s touch for distilling the information for retelling in quick paragraphs and even one-word cutlines. Thanks for sharing your D.C. thoughts and kind words, my friend. Next time I have to plan better, let you know and hopefully we can meet in person.

      Like

  7. I have been to D.C. twice since the Korean War memorial was installed, and managed to miss it both times. I honestly don’t know how, and regret it very much, for I have no idea if I will ever get back there. At least I got to see it in your post.

    Wonderful idea for a post, Mark, and wonderfully executed.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This was a wonderful tour Mark. War memorials always get me thinking – too many names, so much loss. Our WW1 memorials often list several men from the same family. My generation know nothing about how that must have felt. I am very grateful for that. I can well understand your sigh of relief when the draft ended.
    You have had some truly great statesmen. Here we no longer have great statesmen just politicians. Maybe it’s the circumstances that they find themselves in that makes men and women great.

    Like

  9. I haven’t seen the FDR Memorial yet. Of those I’ve seen, the Vietnam continues to hold the most power. I was strangely unaffected by the WWII memorial which was so strange to me. i was so looking forward to seeing it but….maybe I was comparing it to the D-Day Memorial in Bedford, VA which brought me to tears. I guess memorials are personal things too.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve been there, but so long ago. The Vietnam war was still going on, my friends and classmates were dying, so that one is special for me. WWII is also special because 3 of my Uncles fought in that one. I stay up late every night to watch extremely old reruns of Combat and 12 O’Clock High, just for the memories. Korea was mostly a name to me, until M*A*S*H came along and made it real–well as real as that show could make anything, MLK was still living when I was there, so no memorial yet.

    Love this post. Now I’m going to check out the rest of your D.C posts before I bake my cake, watch late night TV, and go to sleep, maybe go to sleep. Tired of fighting this dang computer and this dang WP. Huge sigh.

    Like

      • Oh yeah. It brought back memories of a nice trip, a great guy, a silly song (Dead Skunk In The Middle Of The Road), and a potential mugger who gave up after being counter-attacked with the pointed end of an umbrella. Funny how all self defence training flies out the door when the chips are down, and common sense takes over.

        Like

  11. i loved roosevelt for the natural beauty, the korean war one for the chilling feel of being in the midst of it, and the vietnam memorial for the silence and the wind and the messages left. great pics –

    Like

  12. Mark, I’m not overstating, your photos have captured your experience in DC so well. It has been too long since we’ve visited and now…well, it’s time to talk to Dave about a return visit. Well done, friend.

    Like

  13. This was a fantastic tour, Mark. You could have split this up and made it into many posts. I would cherish each of the posts, this way.
    Thanks for the valuable and informative details added to the photos. I loved the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials the best. I would be excited to see MLK, Jr. monument but when I saw this being drawn up, I felt the statue did not show warmth. Am I wrong to say this, Mark? Do we need to see strength in Martin L. King, Jr. or his energy and character? Just wondering…

    Like

    • I knew this post was long and involved, but I wanted them all in one place because the belong together in theme, Robin. Plus, I already have another nine D.C. photo posts! Anyway, this is the longest of the 10.

      It’s OK if you wish the King statue was warmer. I liked it for its strength and dignity, Robin.

      Like

  14. It’s been a few years since I was in DC for more than the airport, Mark, and I never even knew there was an MLK memorial there until you shared. I’d love to see it in person. And I LOVE that you channeled your inner daddy and took care of our statue by getting the little girl off. πŸ˜€ You rock! ❀

    Like

    • I really thought that with the hard, smooth surface of the statue, I was taking care of the little girl, too, Rachel. Accident waiting to happen! 😦 Thanks, my friend. MLK Jr. memorial is a great one.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s