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On a clear day in Washington DC the best things are truly free and I am not talking about the vast collections in the Museums and Institutes, or the voluminous Library of Congress, or the edifying tours of the White House and the Capitol. It is the memorials. Walk down 17th Street past Constitution Avenue to The Mall and look east toward the Washington Monument with the Capitol as a backdrop. This eloquent forceful obelisk is the most ubiquitous of all the cities’ monuments; it is always there: when descending the Lincoln Steps, leaving the Vietnam Veterans Memorial or the Jefferson Memorial and reflecting upon the Tidal Basin. It dominates The Mall. (If driving, loop around to Independence Avenue then south onto Ohio Drive or West Basin Drive to where there is usually ample parking. Approaching the memorials from here is just as interesting although you will have to cross Independence Drive.) For additional info, and map of The Mall. CLICK HERE.
After viewing the DC Skyline from the Washington Monument, walk west alone the Reflection Pool to the Lincoln Memorial.
The seated Lincoln and the edifice that houses this monument are: exalted, majestic and imposing.
Be impressed with its solemnity but please look to the left of the great man and read his Gettysburg Address and realize that, when compared to these few word, all the efforts of the current president’s speechwriters and handlers seem insipid at best and a bad comedy act at worst.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is just a hundred yards northeast of the steps of the Lincoln.
Three components comprise the memorial:
- The Wall of names
- Three Servicemen's Statue
- Flagpole at the entrance to the Memorial
The Vietnam Women's Memorial.
You may want to spend a second to glance at Ross Perot’s contribution to this memorial (The Statue of Three Servicemen) but to some it’s window dressing compared to Maya Ying Lin’s masterpiece, the Wall.
The Wall is sculpted or carved into the earth in such a way that, as you walk the length of the monument, the Wall overpowers you physically and emotionally. The total length of the Wall is 493 feet 6 inches (150.42 meters) and its height varies from ground level to 10 feet 3 inches (3.12 meters) at its center. Letters of the names of the deceased servicemen and women are 0.53 inches (1.35 centimeters) high and are chiseled .015 inches deep (0.038 centimeters) onto the granite panels.
At the Wall often your reflection and those of others join you as you revere those men and women who lost their lives in the Vietnam War. These photographs convey the emotions that this monument induces better than any words. When ascending the exit ramp, the Washington Monument in the distance is a fitting explanation point.
The Wall may overwhelm with its subtle discreet power but do consider Glenna Goodacre’s Women’s’ Memorial Bronze and the eight yellowwood trees, representing the eight women nurses killed in Vietnam.
After viewing the Wall, you will appreciate the short hike along the famous Cherry Tree Walk on the Tidal Basin to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial.
After viewing the Wall, you will appreciate the short hike along the famous Cherry Tree Walk on the Tidal Basin to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. This polished memorial not only honors FDR, but also commemorates the Great Depression and WWII. We trace twelve years of his leadership through a sequence of four outdoor rooms — each one devoted to one of FDR's terms of office.
More than 50 years after Roosevelt's death, his own words call out from these walls of stone: "I pledge you, I pledge myself," he said in his 1932 acceptance speech, "to a new deal for the American people” or “I have seen war on land and sea. I have seen blood running from the wounded… I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed… I have seen agony of Mothers… I hate war” and the infamous “The only ting we have to fear is fear itself.”
These words and this man helped steer the world through the great and catastrophic events of the twentieth century.
This memorial not only inspires but also
informs; perhaps it will revive more
interest in this period of economic depression
and world war.
From here you may walk to the Jefferson Memorial and of course view the reflection of the Washington Monument upon the Tidal Basin.
In subsequent editions of Mapplus.com we shall explore other monuments and memorials of Washington DC.