Washington, D.C. is one of my favorite cities. The history made and recorded in this place is awe-inspiring to me. There are a handful of places I visit every time I come here, and I try to see a new place or two if I can. One of my favorites is the Lincoln Memorial, so that is my first stop today.
It sits at the foot of the Arlington Memorial Bridge as you cross the Potomac River to enter the core of the city. The Memorial rises high above the parkland and seems to keep watch over the Mall and Reflecting Pool and the Washington Monument to the east. To Lincoln’s left and right are a number of memorials to the soldiers lost in the wars our country has endured.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is stark and elegant in a way. And it always moves me to come here.
I’ve not been to the Korean War Veterans Memorial before this trip and spend some quiet time here reflecting on the memorial and reading a bit about the war while I sit. I wish I had better words for how it strikes me, but I think it’s well-done and beautiful. There is a short phrase carved into granite here which I wish all citizens of the world had emblazoned in their thoughts.
A short walk to the south from the Korean War Memorial leads me to another of the newer monuments I haven’t seen before, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. His edifice has been carved into stone and gazes across the Tidal Basin and its cherry trees toward Thomas Jefferson’s Memorial on the other side. Many quotes from his uplifting and inspiring speeches are carved into the walls of this shrine.
When I was last here about 4 years ago I was able to spend the evening of Veterans Day walking along the Mall and stopping at the War Memorials. It was the first time I had seen the World War II Memorial and I was overwhelmed by its beauty and size. My grandfather served in World War II and was shot at Iwo Jima and means something to me that in some way he and his brothers in arms have been honored by this beautiful place.
I tour a few of the museums of the Smithsonian, still in awe of the fact that these incredible museums are free to everyone, including the American History Museum and the Air and Space Museum. My Uncle Richard is a docent at the Air and Space Museum, so gives Brian and I an incredible one-on-one tour (worth a separate blog) which we enjoy immensely.
We take a hop-on, hop-off tour for the day and pass the White House and the Capitol. But most of my time in Washington today is passed at the Memorials in quiet and respectful thought. I think my time is better spent that way than on thinking about the political figures gathered here in the modern day, and who disappoint me. Instead I say a silent thank you to those who defended or died for this great country and spend time humbled in the presence of their memory.