Commemorations of Struggle: Lincoln, King, and the War Memorials

Washington Travel Blog

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Pacific Pylon and Entrance to National World War II Memorial

In this journal entry, we'll visit the western end of the National Mall in Washington, DC. Sunday was the day to take my daughter and best friend to the National Mall for their Fourth Quarter IFT assignment. This would be a trip to examine the three 20th century war memorials and the Lincoln Memorial and their place in recent American history. Rain threatened as we headed up I-395 from Springfield to the District. There was much traiffic, too, for a Sunday morning. (Surprising, as I thought everyone would be at the annual Air Show at  Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.)

After crossing the Fourteenth Street Bridge, we doubled back past the Washington Monument to the Tidal Basin and my favorite secret parking spot.

Wreaths
 From there, we made our way back through the maze of footpaths towards our first stop, the World War II Memorial.

The National World War II Memorial opened in 2004 in the center of the National Mall. The open-air memorial commemorates those who served in the armed forces during World War II, those who lost their lives, and those who suported the war effort on the home front. The oval is flanked on either end by two pylons, one commemorating the European Theatre of Operations and one commmerating the Pacific Theatre. Between the pylons are a field of stars to represent the war dead and a series of bas relief sculptures depicting scenes from the war and from the home front. All around are quotations from leaders and participants.

From the World War II Memorial, our next destinaiton was the Korean War Memorial.

National World War II Memorial
The memorial to the Korean War is at the western end of the National Mall, near the Lincoln Memorial. To get there, we walked along the Reflecting Pool. Along this end of the Mall are several soccer fields. Coed soccer is popular among young adults and two games were in progress this damp Sunday morning. Both the peaceful Reflecting Pool and the boisterous games gave contrast to the serious themes of the war memorials we were visiting.

The Korean War Veterans Memorial commemorates those who served in the 1950-1954 Korean War. Attention is focused on 19 statues of servicemen, represening different branches of the military, on patrol. The outdoor sculpture has a haunting quality. The soliders appear to be emerging from a nearby grove of trees as they look about and walk over steep and rough terrain.

At the National World War II Memorial
On a damp day such as this, their ponchos seemed to serve a real purpose.  A marble wall running the length of the memorial contains period images of 2,000 service personnel. When the 19 statues are seen reflected in the polished wall, they add up to 38--representing the 38th Parallel. It was interesting to note the number of Korean tour groups that were also visiting the memorial at the time we were there.

Rain had come up during our visit to the Korean War memorial.  It was now Noon and we sought a place for lunch. A snack bar run by the Park Servcie was nearby and we decided to eat there. The snack bar offerings were not bad at all--the usual hamburgers hot dogs, and chicken sandwiches, but also bagels, salads, and wraps.

The rain persisted following lunch as we made our way across the National Mall to the Lincoln Memorial.

Pacific Theatre Pylon and Fountain
The main assignment here was to locate the spot where Martin Luther King, jr., had given his I Have a Dream speech in 1963. Still there was a bit of time to look in on the memorial and the statue of Abraham Lincoln and to look down the Mall toward the Washingotn Monument. (The steps up the memorial were indeed slippery when wet.) 

Our last stop was the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Gently rising out of the ground to and then descending back into the earth, The Wall contains the names of  more than 58,000 American casualties of the Vietnam War. As we walked along the Wall, one of the veterans who volunteer at the memorial to answer visitor's questions appeared and helped my daughter and her friend with their assignment questions.

The Home Front
On the grounds of the Memorial is the Three Servicemen sculpture, depicting a Caucasian, an African-American, and a Hispanic solder. The soldiers are positioned some distance from the Wall, but are seen to be looking at it, perhaps for their comrades. The Vietnam Women's Memorial is also on the grounds, commemoriating servicewomen of the Vietnam era.

Their history assignment completed, we retraced our steps back down the Reflecting Pool, once again passing the soccer fields and then the World War II Memorial.  Off to one side, just before crossing Independence Avenue to return to the Tidal Basin parking lot, one can see the District of Columbia War Memorial. The classical rotunda commemorates Washington, DC, residents killed in World War I. (There is no national World War I memorial.) 

nathanphil says:
Great photos of the War Memorials...
Posted on: Jun 06, 2008
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Pacific Pylon and Entrance to Nati…
Pacific Pylon and Entrance to Nat…
Wreaths
Wreaths
National World War II Memorial
National World War II Memorial
At the National World War II Memor…
At the National World War II Memo…
Pacific Theatre Pylon and Fountain
Pacific Theatre Pylon and Fountain
The Home Front
The Home Front
Hitting the Beach
Hitting the Beach
V-Day
V-Day
Wreaths
Wreaths
Soccer fields on the National Mall
Soccer fields on the National Mall
Coed soccer on the National Mall
Coed soccer on the National Mall
Troops advance over the rough terr…
Troops advance over the rough ter…
Korean War Memorial
Korean War Memorial
Korean War Memorial
Korean War Memorial
Korean War Memorial
Korean War Memorial
Korean War Memorial
Korean War Memorial
Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Po…
Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting P…
Statue of Abraham Lincoln
Statue of Abraham Lincoln
At the spot where Martin Luther Ki…
At the spot where Martin Luther K…
Commemorating the I Have A Dream s…
Commemorating the I Have A Dream …
Famous View down the Reflecting Po…
Famous View down the Reflecting P…
Me at the Lincoln Memorial
Me at the Lincoln Memorial
The Wall--Vietnam War Memorial
The Wall--Vietnam War Memorial
A volunteer Veteran describes the …
A volunteer Veteran describes the…
Studying the Memorial
Studying the Memorial
Vietnam War Memorial
Vietnam War Memorial
Vietnam War Memorial
Vietnam War Memorial
Three Servicemen sculpture
Three Servicemen sculpture
Three Servicemen detail
Three Servicemen detail
Vietnam Womens Memorial
Vietnam Women's Memorial
The Capitol, Washington Monument, …
The Capitol, Washington Monument,…
D.C. War Memorial
D.C. War Memorial
Washington Sights & Attractions review
The Lincoln Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial, dedicated in 1922, honors Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), the sixteenth President. The Lincoln Memorial, with its commanding view o… read entire review
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photo by: b93sp