Walking among these monuments on the National Mall in Washington, DC, I am reminded of how far removed the events they represent have become, as we go about our daily struggles. Blocks of granite and marble chiseled into towering monuments stand as testaments to the incomprehensible struggles of so many who sacrificed so much to bring us the simple freedoms we enjoy today. Many paid the ultimate price, while other suffered countless injustices taking a stand for equality for all people. Unless we were personally touched by family and friends intimately involved in these conflicts, quite often we begin to take these privileges for granted. Looking upon the stunning artistry born from these boulders, I feel the despair felt by the many, as I am transported back through history.
“The marvel of all history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments.” ~ George Washington
This 555 foot tall marble obelisk, once the tallest structure in the world, honors the “Father of our Country”, our first President, George Washington. He helped to structure the Constitution of the United States, the framework for our government.
“It often requires more courage to dare to do right than to fear to do wrong.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln, our 16th President, was a man of humble beginnings, solidly grounded in integrity and honesty. He strived to do what was right, often changing the course of unfolding events to adhere to this principle. He was the consummate role model for future generations; known as the “Great Emancipator”.
Thomas Jefferson Memorial
“I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.” ~ Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was our third President. One of the American Founding Fathers and the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson was a steadfast advocate for individual freedoms.
Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial
“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who had much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.” ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt
Our 32nd President, Franklin D. Roosevelt was our nation’s longest-serving, in office for four terms until his death in 1945. He was one of the most popular Presidents, leading us through the Great Depression and World War II.
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.
His was the most influential voice of the Civil Rights movement, famous for using non-violent means to topple injustices. He paid the ultimate price in his steadfast quest for peace, justice, and equality for all.
World War II Memorial
World War II (1939 – 1945), the most widespread war in history, drawing in more than 100 million people from 30+ countries. More died in this war than any other – 50 to 70 million people, an astounding figure.
Korean War Veterans Memorial
The Korean War (1950 – 1953) was known as the “Forgotten War” due to the lack of public attention it received. Sandwiched between World War II and the Vietnam War, we entered into it to defeat the spread of communism.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
The Vietnam War, of which the United States aided to prevent a communist takeover of South Vietnam, really brought the ravages of war home to me, as I had friends and family members fighting in this conflict. An anti-Vietnam War movement swept the country, as part of the “Counterculture of the 1960’s”, adding to the incalculable pain of the families who lost a loved one, and to those who bravely fought.
High upon a cold, black marble panel, a name unknown to many who passed by, brought a bottomless well of pain to a family in small-town Illinois. I grew up around the wonderful family of Michael Finn, who lost his life in this conflict on July 21, 1969. As a teenager I traveled to Washington DC, gingerly bringing back a pencil etching of Mickey’s name to his mother, a small testament to a brave young man.
When we returned to our campground a nice surprise awaited us later that evening. Thanks to the website RVillage, which allows RVers to find where others are camped, Sherry and David, of “In the Direction of Our Dreams” noticed we were in Greenbelt Park as well. Sherry and David spent their winter in Florida, as did we, but we always seemed to be a few weeks behind them, so it was nice to finally catch up. After we found like interests of hiking, biking, and kayaking, we bemoaned the fact that we hadn’t connected earlier. Terry and Sherry are four days apart in age (not saying who is older) and discovered they were both born in Dayton, Ohio hospitals…small world. We hope to meet them again someday and, given the trails many of us wander, this seems to be a likely bet.