Washington DC is a place I had a curiosity about for some time. Being from southern California, it wasn’t part of our school experience to take field trips there as so many on the east coast do. I had heard it was cool, heard it was inspiring, and heard it wasn’t that great. I have a type of fondness for monuments and museums as they get my curiosity riled up. There are stories to inquire about and lessons to be learned.
I had some insights from my friends on how to go about parking and so forth. Unfortunately, due to my constant haze of poor sleep and such, I couldn’t recall the details. Simple enough though as I went early on a Sunday and found a spot near the mall. I then went on to see nearly all the major monuments, most of the museums, a brewery, and got over 34,000 steps in!
The Washington Monument seemed to be a good place to start and I headed out. I did get a picture, but overall, I didn’t take many. I felt more of a reflective frame of mind, just thinking and reflecting who these people were and how their actions helped our country and led merit to a monument being formed.
It was cool to see the simplicity of Washington’s monument. It was notable in stature, but simple too. It felt right when considering how he had twice removed himself from great power. Perhaps had he not chosen to do so, our country would be drastically different, and rather than the single monument, there could be thousands all over the city. It was a humbling experience.
I then headed towards the Lincoln Memorial, seeing a war memorial along the way. Taking moment to pause and reflect on the brave men and women who sacrifice to help us appreciate our lives. Gives a moment to be grateful for what we have. This too was the theme for the Vietnam memorial, but also moments of flashbacks from movies or news clips thinking about the associated controversy of that war. People feel very strongly on each side, but regardless there were people were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Walking up to the Lincoln Memorial, I could start to feel the history of the memorial and the rallies such as Martin Luther King Jr’s I have a dream speech. While at the Lincoln Memorial, it just struck me at the core. People were taking pictures and laughing as there were many people. I felt more somber, thinking about what I learned in Illinois about Lincoln and how much of a struggle he had. I noticed the expression on his face and how his gaze was towards the Washington Monument. To me, it was almost as if you had Washington who had helped build the USA, then Lincoln looking over as if to say, I did all I could, and I was barely able to keep it together. The struggles of challenging wars and forming or keeping together our union had some commonalities between these great men.
I continued my journey to the monuments. I saw the Franklin Delano Roosevelt monument, which is a President I had read up on a while ago to gain a better understanding. There was a statue of him sitting in his wheelchair, to which I pulled up a seat on a bench and just reflected while looking at him. It was a younger version of FDR, and it created a sense of awe of what he would experience in his life as he grew older and lead our country through trying times.
The other notable feature of the FDR section was how it wasn’t necessarily grand in height, but the amount of space it took was considerable as it illustrated the different terms he served as President. It seemed fitting for someone who was the longest serving President in our history.
Another monument I came across was Martin Luther King JR looking over a body a water in a peaceful manner. It resonated the peaceful approach in the fight for equal rights for people of all skin colors. Sometimes it’s as if there’s a bit of guilt I have for the true appreciation of this as I’ve always taken it for granted that people are equal. I now feel grateful for when, where, and how I was raised to view people in this way. As I’ve learned more I have a greater appreciation of the impact that he and other leaders had towards pushing our country to a greater state.
When I came across Thomas Jefferson, I felt a sense of curiosity to take in this monument. It was a bit of a shame though as it nearly made me overlook the George Mason monument. It was unobtrusive and yet showed light on someone that had influence in the declaration of independence, the bill of rights, and spoke against slavery.
Getting on to Thomas Jefferson, someone I read about in grade school I knew the obvious things about him and the irony of drafting the declaration of independence while owning slaves. I had planned to visit Monticello and as such will offer more thoughts on him in a later blog. On this day, while visiting the monument, it was part of an inscription that struck me. The idea that laws shouldn’t be unnecessarily changed, but as times change then so too must the laws.
It struck me because as you watch the news or stay involved in daily events and politics within the United States, you will inevitably hear some dialogue how laws should or shouldn’t be changed. Sometimes people say the founding fathers wrote things and there shouldn’t be any changes. It is interesting to see words of one, saying that changes should occur if the times advance to a stage that requires it.
Even as I write this blog I have found myself wanting to revisit DC. A desire to fully experience it again. I’m feeling reflective now as I recall the memories, but it is not to the same intensity as before. While I saw many museums and cool things within, it is this reflective mood I feel regarding our history and some people that had large roles in shaping it that stand out.
For those of you wishing to get a bit of reading and see some pictures here is the official website. I do of course recommend a visit if you’re able to make it happen.