March 29: A Beautiful Day to Walk
What a beautiful day it turned out to be! Because the rest of the week does not look too promising, weather wise, I decided to spend Tuesday on foot. Most of the establishments do not open until 10:00 a.m. so I had some time to just enjoy a brisk walk. It took close to 20 minutes to reach National Mall, and another 15 to 20 minutes to reach the monuments. The wind was quite sharp, but then the flags would not have been as impressive if it were calm.
I started at the Washington Monument. Awe-inspiring! I don’t think it can be described any other way. With the flags unfurled around the base, a clear sky as the backdrop, and the sun on the north face, it was striking. Daily tours had been sold out, so that will have to wait until next time. To the north of the monument you can see the Capital building; to the south are the rest of the monuments.
The World War II memorial is the first one past the Washington Monument. It has all of the states and the U.S. territories listed around the oval. To the west is the Atlantic tower and to the east is the Pacific. Quotes from presidents and generals are etched on the inside of the wall. There is a pool that has gold stars on the backdrop. I believe the stars are in memoriam for all those who served in the war. If you look in the pool from the side, there seems to be a neverending reflection of the stars.
I continued to the Vietnam Wall and walked the length. I witnesses someone taking a rubbing of one of the names. Flowers were here and there. There are 73 sections on each side of the wall with about 3 unnumbered ones on each end. Many people were looking for names and some were discussing the ones they had found.
The Lincoln Memorial was next. The steps to the statue appear daunting because of the angle they are at. When you get to President Lincoln, you realize that he is peering at the Washington Monument and the Capital Building. They say if you are there around 8:30 in the morning that the sun shines directly on the statue. The sculpture is immense. At times it felt that he was looking at me. It made me start wondering what he would do in today’s age, what he would think about the U.S. today, what he would think about me. On either side of him are two speeches. One is the Gettysburg Address and the other is his 2nd inaugural speech. His word choice transcends time. Be ready, 8th graders, to take a look at this!
From Linclon, I went to the Korean memorial. It is unique in that it is three parts. One is the statues of the soldiers in full gear. They look like they are on patrol. The second is the wall that has different scenes and faces etched in it. I didn’t see the etchings until I got closer. The third part is a border that has the number of US and UN soldiers that were wounded, missing, captured, and dead. I did not realize how many were involved until I saw that. It’s staggering.
I visited the FDR Memorial and found the appeal to those with special needs fantastic. In portions of the memorial they have plaques that feature braille and raised reliefs. It is completely wheelchair accessible (as all of the monuments are) and features sculptures of FDR, Eleanor Roosevelt, a bread line, and farmers. There are also quotes that were taken from all of the phases of his presidency.
The Jefferson Memorial was the last one on this part of my morning tour. The architecture was astounding. Jefferson looks across the tidal basin toward the White House. He has a clear view, and, at this time of year, the cherry blossoms add to it. It is just beautiful.
From the monuments, I walked to the Holocaust museum. I found out some details of the event that I did not know. Photos are not allowed; I am not sure that they would do justice to the exhibits. It is a haunting experience. It was amazing to see school groups listening to the information and reading the placards. It is definitely not for the faint-of-heart. At the end of the tour I was able to talk to two Holocaust survivors. I only had a few questions for them. They were fantastic.
Am starting later than I anticipated. I am heading to Union Station first. After that, who knows?!