Washington D.C – Part 3: Monuments and Memorials

Whilst DC no doubt has numerous interesting characters,

It’s rare to see a huge amount of people trapsing the boiling streets of DC, so instead of my usual people watching, i headed along the broad streets, lined with imposing white giants

to see as many of the monuments, memorials and mammoth museums as was possible in the short time (2 days of sightseeing) i had available. Whilst there were many that i either didn’t want to, or wasnt able to, go in and explore, i was still able to marvel at their outwards grandeur. Pictured below is the National Archives and Records Administration which contains the United States Government’s Charters of Freedom, the U. S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence.

The records of the nation’s civil, military and diplomatic activities are also held by the National Archives for present and future generations.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

An extremely moving and confronting experience was visiting the Holocaust Museum. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) provides for the documentation, study, and interpretation of Holocaust history. It is dedicated to helping leaders and citizens of the world confront hatred, prevent genocide, promote human dignity, and strengthen democracy.

The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of approximately six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. “Holocaust” is a word of Greek origin meaning “sacrifice by fire.” During the era of the Holocaust, German authorities also targeted other groups because of their perceived “racial inferiority”: Roma (Gypsies), the disabled, and some of the Slavic peoples (Poles, Russians, and others). Other groups were persecuted on political, ideological, and behavioral grounds, among them Communists, Socialists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and homosexuals. In 1933, the Jewish population of Europe stood at over nine million. By 1945, the Germans and their collaborators killed nearly two out of every three European Jews as part of the “Final Solution,” the Nazi policy to murder the Jews of Europe.

As well as documenting all of the facts surrounding the Holocaust, it also gave an extremely confronting human element to the horrific event we have heard so much about, but for them most part, have never properly listened. It’s the kind of experience that made me feel so incredibly uncomfortable that half way through, knowing how the story ended (it’s presented chronologically) and feeling emotionally numb – all i wanted to do was leave. Due to the deisgn of the museum – this is virtually impossible as you are directed along a one way route through the exhibitions. WHilst i certainly walked faster than i did at the beginning, i was glad it made me stay, as each photograph, each piece of clothing, each video, and each testament from survivors greatly contributed to my understanding of the Holocaust.

Union Station

A great point of reference for me during my time in DC, was the grande building of Union Station (est 1908).

This beautiful train station was my initial point of arrival, where i came to get the metro back to my hosts and one night, i even had dinner here at one of it’s restaurants !

Washington Memorial

Another icon of DC, towering above the rest, is the Washington Monument. The monument is an obelisk near the west end of the National Mall, built to commemorate the first U.S. president, General George Washington. The monument, made of marble, granite, and sandstone, is both the world’s tallest stone structure and the world’s tallest obelisk, standing at 169.294 m.

The Whitehouse

Just across from the monument, i patiently made my way between a crowd to reach the gate through which i peered in at the Whitehouse! The beautiful (but somewhat unimaginatively named) building has been the residence of every U.S. President since John Adams in 1789!

The central Executive Residence flanked by the East Wing and West Wing. The Chief Usher coordinates day to day household operations and has a staff of 90 workers to assist him. The White House includes: six stories and 5,100 m² of floor space, 132 rooms and 35 bathrooms, 412 doors, 147 windows, twenty-eight fireplaces, eight staircases, three elevators, five full-time chefs, a tennis court, a (single-lane) bowling alley, a movie theater, a jogging track, a swimming pool, and a putting green. – not bad Mr President!

Barack Obama speaking with Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office 2009

a stark contrast to the house of Australia’s current Prime minister – Julia Gillard! I’d imagine it has maybe 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, a cosy living room and kitchen area combined? Perfectly adequate, but, not quite the Whitehouse…..

"The Brown House?" The house of Australian Prime Minister - Julia Gillard

across from the Whitehouse on the sprawling fields of the mall – hundreds of people were out sporting team colours and playing softball

National World War II Memorial

I made my way down to the (relatively recently added) World War 2 Memorial

Consisting of 56 pillars and a pair of arches one inscribed “Atlantic” and the other, “Pacific” surrounding a plaza and fountain

The Freedom Wall has 4,048 gold stars, each representing 100 Americans who died in the war. In front of the wall lies the message “Here we mark the price of freedom

The Lincoln Memorial

The WWII memorial looks towards the Abraham Lincoln Memorial, dedicated who a man who has long stood in the minds of the American people as a symbol of honesty, integrity, and humanity. Worldwide, he’s renowned for his commitment to abolishing slavery.

The building is in the form of a Greek Doric temple. My hosts very kindly took me in to DC just so we could go around a visit most of the memorials in one go. We went at night as it’s particularly beautiful and the temperature is MUCH more forgiving.

It contains a large seated sculpture of Abraham Lincoln and inscriptions of two well-known speeches by Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural Address. The memorial has been the site of many famous speeches, like Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered August 28, 1963

Heres something quirky! – Some have claimed, that the face of General Robert E. Lee was carved onto the back of Lincoln’s head. Lee was basically Lincolns arch rival as he was the commanding general of the Confederate (A group of pro-slavery Southern States) army in the American Civil War and a postwar icon of the South’s “lost cause” and looks back across the Potomac toward his former home, Arlington House, now within the bounds of Arlington National Cemetery. Looking closing at Lincolns hair left of his ear, there seems to be the clear profile of a nose and you really can see a human portrait!

It looks directly across to the Washington Monument which is eerily beaIuitful at night

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

After the Abe Lincoln we also went and visited the Vietnam Memorial. Truly something special. it actually goes beneath ground level and is a stark, long black wall, listing the name of every single soldier who died in the war.

Here’s an aerial view to give you a better idea of it’s layout

Aerial view of the Vietnam Memorial

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

The next memorial we drove to The memorial of Franklin D Roosevelt. The expansive memorial traces 12 years of the history of the United States through a sequence of four outdoor rooms, one for each of FDR’s terms of office.

Thomas Jefferson Memorial

The next and final memorial of the evening was in tribute to Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was the third President of the United States (1801–1809) and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776).

Jefferson was one of the most influential Founding Fathers, known for his promotion of the ideals of republicanism in the United States

And that rounded off a momentous visit to a few of the top Monuments and Memorials of DC!


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