Commemorations of Struggle: Lincoln, King, and the War Memorials
Washington Travel Blog› entry 18 of 66 › view all entries
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)