MEMORIALS AT THE NATIONAL MALL

There is so much to see when visiting the nation's capital and to fully experience the National Mall all in just one day is not enough. Part of the original design for Washington D.C., this massive open space park stretches from the US Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial and around the Tidal Basin. It is also where you will find the museums of the Smithsonian, National Archives, National Gallery of Art, U.S. Botanic Gardens, the different memorials, and the Reflecting Pool. The National Mall was intended to be a place to remember American heroes, to celebrate freedom and to be a forum to exercise freedom in the form of protests and rallies. Numerous festivals and concerts take place on the lawn throughout the year. A gravel path encircles the Mall and is a great place for a sightseeing run or walk.

Lining either side of the National Mall near the Capitol are 200-year-old American elm trees. In the spring, many Americans and international tourists make a special visit to Washington, D.C. to see the blooming pink and white Japanese cherry trees that circle the Tidal Basin and the Jefferson Memorial. The National Cherry Blossom Festival is an annual celebration in Washington, D.C., commemorating the March 27, 1912, gift to the city of 3,000 Japanese cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to enhance the growing friendship between the United States and Japan and celebrate the continued close relationship between the two peoples. The original trees were planted by First Lady Mrs. William Howard Taft and the Vicountess Chinda of Japan. Today more than 3,700 cherry trees of several varieties grow around the Tidal Basin, at East Potomac Park, and on the Washington Monument Grounds. Most trees are the Yoshino variety which is Japan's favorite cultivated cherry tree.

I had the chance to visit Washington D.C. once again during the first week of November in 2005 and took time to walk around the National Mall with my good friend Jimmy Villanueva, a long-time resident of Leonardtown, Maryland, who was kind enought to accompany me. We tried as much as we could to visit the different memorials which included the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, World War II Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, and the famous Washington Monument. With my digital camera, I recorded by way of photographs all the beautiful landmarks I saw and these you will see as you scroll down this webpage.

THE LINCOLN MEMORIAL

The Lincoln Memorial which stands at the west end of the National Mall in Washington, DC, is a tribute to the 16th United States President Abraham Lincoln and the nation he fought to preserve during the Civil War (1861-1865). The building stands 190 feet long, 119 feet wide, and almost 100 feet high and was built to resember a Greek Doric temple.

Between the north and south chambers is the central hall containing the solitary figure of Lincoln sitting in contemplation which faces the Washington Monument and the Capitol. The statue was carved in four years by the Piccirilli brothers under the supervision of the sculptor, Daniel Chester French. The statue of Lincoln is 19 feet high and weighs 175 tons.

Inscribed on the south wall of the monument is the Gettysburg Address. Above it is a mural painted by Jules Guerin depicting the angel of truth freeing a slave. Guerin also painted the unity of North and South mural on the north wall. Etched into the north wall below the mural is Lincolnís second inaugural speech.

The original plan was for the statue to be only ten feet high, but this was changed so that the figure of Lincoln would not be dwarfed by the size of the chamber. A commission to plan a monument was first proposed in 1867, shortly after Lincoln's death. Construction began in 1914, and the memorial was opened to the public in 1922.

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The theme of the building represents the Union. It is surrounded by a peristyle of 38 fluted Doric columns, one for each of the thirty six states in the Union at the time of Lincoln's death, and two columns in-antis at the entrance behind the colonnade. The names of the 48 states in the Union (when the memorial was completed in 1922) are carved on the walls along the outside of the memorial. A plaque honoring Alaska and Hawaii is in the approach plaza.

VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial serves as a testament to the sacrifice of American military personnel during one of this nation's least popular wars. The memorial consists of three distinct sections: The wall of Names, the Three Servicemen Statue and Flagpole and the Vietnam Women's Memorial.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial honors members of the U.S. armed forces who served in the Vietnam War. The main part of the memorial was completed in 1982 and is located in Constitution Gardens on the National Mall, just northeast of the Lincoln Memorial. The Memorial is maintained by the U.S. National Park Service, and receives an estimated 3 million visitors each year.

The memorial grew out of a need to heal the nation's wounds as America struggled to reconcile different moral and political points of view. In fact, the memorial was conceived and designed to make no political statement whatsoever about the war. The Memorial is a place where everyone, regardless of opinion, can come together and remember and honor those who served. By doing so, the memorial has paved the way towards reconciliation and healing, a process that continues today.

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Congress authorized the site on July 1, 1980, and a competition to design the memorial was announced later that year. On May 6, 1981 a jury of eight architects and sculptors unanimously selected a design by Maya Ying Lin, a 21-year old Yale University architecture student from Athens, Ohio, as the winner from 1,421 entries. Lin had originally designed the Memorial Wall as a student project. Controversially, the design lacked many of the elements traditionally present in war memorials, such as patriotic writings and heroic statues, and a flagstaff and figurative sculpture. The design was formally approved on March 11, 1982 and the ground was formally broken on March 26, 1982, with dedication of the memorial on November 13, 1982 after a march to its site by thousands of Vietnam War veterans.

A short distance away from the wall is another part of the memorial, the Three Soldiers Statue. It was designed to complement the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, by adding a more traditional component. The statue, unveiled in 1984, was designed by Frederick Hart, who placed third in the original competition. Also part of the Memorial is the Vietnam Women's Memorial. It is located a short distance south of The Wall, north of the Reflecting Pool. It was designed by Glenna Goodacre and dedicated on November 11, 1993.

KOREAN WAR VETERANS MEMORIAL

The Korean War Veterans Memorial is located on The National Mall in Washington, DC, in West Potomac Park. It was authorized by Congress on October 28, 1986 and construction began in November 1993. It was dedicated on July 27, 1995, the 42nd anniversary of the armistice that ended the war by Bill Clinton and Kim Young Sam, President of the Republic of Korea, to the men and women who served during the conflict. The Memorial is managed by the U.S. National Park Service.

The Memorial is in the form of a triangle intersecting a circle. Within the triangle are 19 stainless steel statues designed by Frank Gaylord, each slightly larger than life size (between 7 feet 3 inches and 7 feet 6 inches), representing a squad on patrol, 15 Army, 2 Marines, 1 Navy Medic, and 1 Air Force Observer, dressed in full gear, dispersed among strips of granite and juniper bushes, representing the rugged terrain of Korea.

To the north of the statues is a path, forming one one side of the triangle, and behind, to the south, is a 164 foot long black granite wall, created by Louis Nelson, with photographic images sandblasted into it depicting soldiers, equipment and people involved in the war, forming the second side. The third side of the triangle, facing towards the Lincoln Memorial, is open. To the north of the statues and path is the United Nations Wall, a low wall listing the 22 members of the United Nations that contributed troops or medical support to the Korean war effort.

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The circle contains the Pool of Remembrance, a shallow 30-foot-diameter pool lined with black granite and surrounded by a grove of trees with benches. Inscriptions list the numbers killed, wounded, missing in action, and held as prisoners of war, and a nearby plaque in inscribed: "Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met." Additionally, right next to the numbers of American soldiers are those of the United Nations troops in the same categories. A further granite wall bears the simple message, inlaid in silver: "Freedom Is Not Free".

WASHINGTON MONUMENT

The Washington Monument is the large white-colored obelisk in the center of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., built as a memorial to George Washington, the first President of the United States and the leader of the revolutionary Continental Army, which won independence from the British following the American Revolutionary War.

The monument was modeled after a classic Egyptian obelisk. It is made of marble, granite, and sandstone and was designed by Robert Mills, a prominent American architect of the 1840s. Its cornerstone was laid on July 4, 1848; the capstone was set on December 6, 1884, and the completed monument was dedicated on February 21 of the following year. It officially opened to the public on October 9, 1888. Upon completion, it became the world's tallest structure at 555 ft (169 m), a title it held until 1889, when the Eiffel Tower was finished in Paris, France.

Weighing 90,854 tons, the top of the monument is capped by a small pyramid of solid aluminum. It towers over everything in Washington, DC and is one of the tallest masonry structures in the world. If you take the elevator to the pyramid top, windows in the observation room offer views of the Lincoln Memorial, the White House, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, and the Capitol building. The structure is 55 ft (17 m) square at its base and tapers to less than 35 ft (10 m) square near its highest point.

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The walls of the monument are made of white marble from Maryland and Massachusetts, underlain by granite, the whole supported by interior ironwork. A slight color change is perceptible at the 152'-level. In total, there are 36,491 stones. Inserted into the interior walls are 192 carved stones presented by individuals, societies, cities, States, and nations of the world. Fifty flags surround the base of the Washington Monument and symbolize the 50 states of the Union. The observation area in the pyramidion may be reached by elevator or by an iron stairway consisting of 50 landings and 897 steps. The first elevator was a steam hoist, used until 1901 when the first electric elevator was installed. The present elevator, installed in 1959, makes the ascent in 70 seconds.

The Washington Monument, built at intervals between 1848 and 1885 with funds from public subscriptions and Federal appropriations, memorializes George Washington's achievements and unselfish devotion to principle and to country. It shows the gratitude of the people of the United States to the father of their country and their living faith in the causes for which he stood. Alone among the Founders of the United States George Washington earned the title "Father of his Country" in recognition of his leadership in the cause of American independence. With this monument the citizens of the United States show their enduring gratitude and respect.

NATIONAL WORLD WAR II MEMORIAL

The National World War II Memorial is a national memorial to Americans who served and died in World War II. Symbolic of the defining event of the 20th Century, the memorial is a monument to the spirit, sacrifice, and commitment of the American people. It opened to the public on April 29, 2004, and was dedicated by President George W. Bush on May 29, 2004, two days before Memorial Day. The Memorial was proposed seventeen years ago, and took two and a half years to build. It is the size of a football field and is administered by the National Park Service.

The World War II Memorial is located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on the former site of the Rainbow Pool at the eastern end of the Reflecting Pool, between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. The memorial stands with two tall granite arches representing the Atlantic and Pacific theaters of battle. It has 56 pillars, each measuring 17 feet tall, arranged in a semicircle around a central plaza with the two 43-foot arches on opposite sides. Each pillar is inscribed with the names of the then-48 U.S. States, the District of Columbia, and the Alaska Territory and Territory of Hawaii, the Commonwealth of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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Each arch is inscribed with "Atlantic" and "Pacific." The Freedom Wall has four thousand gold stars to mark the more than 400,000 American lives lost in the conflict. Below the stars an inscription reads, here we mark the price of freedom. The plaza is 337 feet long and 240 feet wide and is sunk 6 feet below grade, and contains a 246 feet by 147 feet pool.

THOMAS JEFFERSON MEMORIAL

The Jefferson Memorial honors Thomas Jefferson who is the author of the Declaration of Independence, first Secretary of State, and third President of the United States. Designed by Architect John Russell Pope, this Roman-style memorial is elegant and simple. Pope used Jefferson's own architectural tastes in the design of the memorial.

The memorial was modeled after the Pantheon of Rome and is America's foremost memorial to Jefferson. As an original adaptation of Neoclassical architecture, it is a key landmark in the monumental core of Washington, DC. The memorial is located on part of an eighteen acre lot close to the South side of the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park. Construction of the memorial began on Nov. 15, 1938 and was completed November 15, 1989. It was officially dedicated on April 13, 1943, after John Pope's death and on the 200th anniversary of Jefferson's birth.

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial is one of the most picturesque landmarks in Washington DC. This circular classical white marble monument is in keeping with a style much favored by Jefferson. The Memorial is ninety-six feet high with a diameter of one-hundred and fifty feet held up by twelve marble columns. At its center is a towering 19-foot bronze statue sculpt in 1941 by Rudolph Evans which stands on a 6-foot pedestal. The statue weighs five tons and looks out from the interior of the Memorial toward the White House. It is surrounded by four of Jefferson's most inspirational writings that illustrate the principles to which he dedicated his life. These inscriptions describe his beliefs in freedom, education of all people, and the need for change in the laws and institutions of a democracy.

FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT MEMORIAL

Located along the famous Cherry Tree Walk on the Tidal Basin near the National Mall, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial is a memorial not only to President Roosevelt, but also to the era he represents. The monument traces twelve years of the History of the United States through a sequence of four outdoor rooms, each one devoted to one of Roosevelt's terms of office.

Sculptures inspired by photographs depict the 32nd President. Some examples include a 10-foot statue showing him in a wheeled chair and a bas-relief depicting him riding in a car during his first inaugural. At the very beginning of the memorial is a statue with FDR seated in a wheelchair much like the one he actually used. Other sculptures depict scenes from the Great Depression, such as listening to a Fireside Chat on the radio and waiting in a bread line.

More than 50 years after Roosevelt's death, his own words call out from the walls of his memorial as if he were somehow present. Those of us who know FDR only as a historical figure will recognize these words by their association with great and catastrophic events. For the many Americans who lived through the Roosevelt years, the words recall personal struggles and triumphs during 12 years that seemed like a lifetime.

In August 1955, ten years after FDR's death, Congress established a commission to create a memorial to Roosevelt. Four years later, a location for the memorial was found. The memorial was to be located half way between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, along the Tidal Basin. Though several design competitions were held over the years, it wasn't until 1978 that a design was chosen. The commission chose Lawrence Halprin's memorial design, a 7.5 acre memorial that represented both President Roosevelt and his era. With only a few changes, Halprin's design was built. Unlike the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials which are compact, covered and focused on a single statue of each president, the FDR memorial is vast, uncovered, and focused on numerous statues, quotes, and waterfalls.

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