Thursday, July 03, 2008

Washington D.C. Pics Of The Day--Day 4

Welcome back for another episode of Ked and Kat's Travels. We are continuing our exploration of Washington D.C., and running out of time before we head back home to Portland, so we're getting up early and heading out into the city, determined to fill our day as full as possible. Come along and see the sights, and maybe learn a thing or two.

We did cram a lot into this day, and would have done more if the sun didn't have this dreadful tendency to go down at night. That doesn't mean it was all a mad dash, though. We really wanted to soak in and contemplate what we saw--there was a lot to think about. After our exciting foray into Air and Space on day three, day four moved us in a more introspective direction. This was a Sunday, so we thought it would be an ideal time to visit some of our nation's memorials. We walked the loop around the Tidal Basin of the Potomac River, and viewed some of our country's remembrances of her history and people. We saw the World War II Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, and finally, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. This was not a light and fluffy set of tourist sites. Each place we went had its depth of meaning and impact, and I'll try to give you a taste of what we saw, and especially what we read.

Okay, this picture really is rather light and fluffy. Almost every day we walked past this spot, and this day I made Ked let me take his picture with this quirky little fountain. The water streamed so steadily that it looked like tubes crossing the pavement. It was oddly unnatural. More than once we saw people stopping to put a finger in the stream, just to see the tubes wiggle and sputter like water is supposed to do.

Our first official stop for the day was the World War II Memorial. This is an absolutely beautiful tribute to America's efforts and sacrifices during that great global conflict. Each of those pillars contains the name of an American state or territory which sent its youth to die in the struggle for freedom and against tyranny.

The teeming throng of people at the memorial was an international melting pot, reflecting the reality that this was not just an American travail, but indeed a worldwide conflagration.

The pavilions at either end of the memorial, one for the Atlantic and one for the Pacific, "symbolize a war fought across two oceans." The wreaths of oak and wheat represent America's industrial and agricultural strength, vital to the war effort. The wall to the right of these pillars contains the following tribute from President Franklin D. Roosevelt to those who remained and served the country from home:

"They have given their sons to the military services. They have stoked the furnaces and hurried the factory wheels. They have made the planes and welded the tanks, riveted the ships and rolled the shells."

They also rationed, scrimped and recycled to contribute to the war effort. The sacrifices to win this war were committed and nearly universal.

Here's another nearby inscription, fitting to this pictorial combination of the WWII Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the American flag in the distance:

"We are determined that before the sun sets on this terrible struggle our flag will be recognized throughout the world as a symbol of freedom on the one hand and of overwhelming force on the other." General George C. Marshall

Beyond the Reflecting Pool is the Lincoln Memorial. We didn't go to it this time, because we have been there before and wanted to cover new ground, but I do remember it being just amazingly inspirational. Do go there when you get to D.C. yourself.

I fear these photos will all start to look alike today, being such a determined combination of blue sky and water , green trees, and monumental white marble, but I think these scenes are so beautiful, and I hope you will indulge my inability to choose between them.

Speaking of blue, green and white, here is a view of the Jefferson Memorial as we travelled around the tidal basin that provides a home to the village of monuments near the National Mall. I don't think there's a single bad scene or angle to be had on this particular walk, and I would love to be able to see this in all four seasons of the year. I bet it's spectacular in the snow.

As we headed round the path, we came upon the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. It had a significantly different tone from the grand marble edifices that make up the rest of the Memorial Parks. This place was much more subdued, with dull stone and bronze to commemorate the trials and challenges of the Great Depression.

Here's something upon which I think most of us can agree.

Here's another look at the Jefferson Memorial. You might get tired of these. I find this monument absolutely stunning. To give you some substance as well as style, I'll caption a few of these photos with some of the quotes from Jefferson which you can find inside the Memorial.

"Almighty God hath created the mind free. All attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens... are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion...No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship or ministry or shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion. I know but one code of morality for men whether acting singly or collectively."

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights. Among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men. We... solemnly publish and declare that these colonies are and of right ought to be free and independent states... and for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honour."

While I have no feet in this photo, I include it so that I may say that I stand with Jefferson when he says, "Here, we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it."

" I look to the diffusion of light and education as the resource most to be relied on for ameliorating the condition, promoting the virtue and advancing the happiness of man."

There is so much more to be said about Jefferson. He was a man of the Enlightenment, of letters, science and art, and had boundless influence on the very nature of our republic. He was, as the literature from the Memorial states, "a political philosopher, architect, musician, book collector, scientist, horticulturalist, diplomat, inventor and the third President of the United States." We're talking giant here. I walked around in awe.

I have no pictures to show you from the rest of our day. We spent it at the Holocaust Museum, and they request that no photographs be taken, out of respect. I will simply say that our visit was very, very hard, but important. Nothing I say can do it justice. Everyone should go there.