Washington D.C. has some fantastic museums (the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Smithsonian National Museum of American History are my favorites), but what I love most about the city are its monuments. It has monuments honoring former presidents, prolific leaders, as well as the men and women who served in past wars. While it’s hard to choose since I truly feel that all of Washington’s monuments have a unique look and feel to them, the below are my top three.
Out of all of the monuments on the National Mall in Washington D.C., I feel that the Lincoln Memorial has the most striking location. Situated across from the Washington Monument with the Reflecting Pool separating the two, it’s easy to see, when standing at the top of the steps of the Lincoln Memorial why it has been the site of many historic speeches, including Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” which he delivered there. Although the design of the building, a form of Greek Doric temple, seems to be in stark contrast to the humble man who was born in a log cabin in the Kentucky wilderness and educated himself, it also seems fitting for one of the country’s greatest presidents. Inside the memorial is the lone figure of Lincoln sitting in contemplation, which based on the numerous photographs of him, seems a pose he was wont to have especially since during his entire presidency he had the weight of the country resting solely upon his shoulders. The statue stands 19 feet tall from head to foot and took four years to complete. The north and south side chambers contain inscriptions of Lincoln’s second inaugural address and perhaps the most famous speech he ever gave, the Gettysburg Address. If you only had time to visit one of Washington D.C. monuments, I would recommend letting it be the Lincoln Memorial.
I’m by no means a scholar on Thomas Jefferson and yet in my humble opinion, the memorial to the nation’s third president suits him. His famous estate Monticello was located on top of a mountain, deeply secluded and to a lesser extent, so is his memorial in the nation’s capital. It’s surrounded by beautiful landscaping and with its location next to the Tidal Basin, it simply exudes a sense of supreme tranquility. While many of the monuments on the mall are easily walkable, the Jefferson Memorial is slightly removed from the rest. And if you just happen to be driving to it, it’s a little tricky to get to as well.
-Korean War Veterans Memorial
While many people know very little (if anything at all) of the events surrounding the Korean War, I’m still glad that such a memorial exists to honor the men who fought in it. To think that less than five years after the devastation of World War II, mass fighting was taking place again, families torn apart by this new conflict with younger sons and brothers and husbands now of age to fight, is simply unthinkable. The memorial is in the form of a triangle intersecting a circle and within the walled triangle are 19 stainless steel statues with each of the armed forces of the United States represented. When reflected on the wall, there appear to be 38 soldiers, representing of course the 38th Parallel, the post war boundary that divided North from South Korea. To me the most stark image of the memorial is that the statues are all dressed in full combat gear, dispersed among strips of granite and juniper bushes which represent the rugged terrain of Korea. A friend of my grandparents who fought in the Korean War always said the worst part about the war was the terrible cold.