This was not our first trip to DC, but it was the most amount of time we spent in the city to date, exploring the monuments, memorials, and museums on the National Mall.
According to the National Park Service website, “This is where the nation comes to remember and where history is made. As America’s Front Yard, the National Mall and Memorial Parks is home to many of our country’s most iconic memorials telling the story of people and events that shaped us as a nation. Each year, millions of people come to recreate, commemorate presidential legacies, honor our veterans, and make their voices heard.”
It was wonderfully walkable. The National Mall includes a wide grassy lawn and pedestrian parkway that runs a mile from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial with the Washington Monument in the center. It also includes the marvelous museums of the Smithsonian which I’ll save for another time.
I wish all Americans could visit our nation’s capital at least once, but if you can’t, hopefully this post will give you a good taste.
I’ll start with a bird’s eye view. In the first photo you can see the Lincoln Memorial in the foreground, with the Capitol in the distance far behind the Washington Monument. The second photo shows the Tidal Basin, including Jefferson Memorial.
Pictures in the galleries can be enlarged by clicking on them.
We walked this area again and again, under sunshine and blue skies; from the Capitol to the monuments, with stops by the wonderful art galleries and museums.
I’ll share the monuments and memorials in the order in which we found them on our first day’s walk around the National Mall.
“The Washington Monument honors George Washington, hero of the American Revolution and first president of the United States. When this stunning obelisk was completed in 1884, it was the tallest building in the world.” National Park Service
“In this temple…as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the Union, the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever.”
“Beneath these words, the 16th president of the United States sits immortalized in marble as an enduring symbol of unity, strength, and wisdom. Here a grateful nation honors a martyred president who guided the country through civil war and freed 4 million enslaved persons.” National Park Service website
Even the steps of the Lincoln Memorial are historic. It was here that Marian Anderson performed in 1939 after being denied the right to sing at Constitution Hall, and where Martin Luther King gave his speech, ‘I Have a Dream.’
One of the most important and inspirational leaders of the modern civil rights movement, Dr. King’s memorial was established more than 50 years after his death. The man and his statue are indeed larger than life.
“President Bill Clinton dedicated the Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) Memorial on May 2, 1997. Different from the previous presidential memorials, the FDR Memorial uses elements of stone, water, and landscaping to tell the story of FDR’s presidency in a more approachable way. Quotes are at eye level and the statues are at or close to ground level and were meant to be touched. The memorial consists of five outdoor rooms- one as a prologue and four for the unprecedented four terms of FDR. The fountains and pools placed throughout the memorial represent the important role water played in FDR’s life. The water features and the stones also help set the tone during different times in his presidency, from the reflection to chaos.” National Park Service website
Thomas Jefferson, our third President, was also a political philosopher, scientist, diplomat, horticulturist and inventor. The memorial was dedicated on April 13, 1943, on the 200th anniversary of his birth. Jefferson had this inscribed on his own tombstone, “Author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom, and Father of the University of Virginia.”
As we walked on the National Mall, we also stopped by several moving memorials, dedicated to the veterans of World War 2, Vietnam, and Korea.
I can’t tell you how many times I had tears in my eyes as I read the many inscriptions at the memorials and when considering the thousands of young men who gave their lives for our country. It was powerful, sobering, and inspiring. Yes, war is sometimes necessary, but that doesn’t change the harsh reality of its ugliness; the words below are from FDR.
I know this ran long but I hope you enjoyed this tour of the monuments and memorials of Washington DC. I’ll be back another time with highlights from the museums.
And because this city belongs to all Americans, I am sharing #OurTown for Sunday Stills.