A Monumental Day

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.

Washington Monument

“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.

Lincoln Memorial

“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.

Sherry, Terry & David getting to know one another.
Sherry, Terry & David getting to know one another.

65 thoughts on “A Monumental Day

  • LuAnn a wonderful historical memorial post. I was touched by reading of you bringing the etched name as a teenager back to a grieving Mom. What a big heart you have.

  • Very stirring. I haven’t been there yet and look so forward to the day I see those monuments in person. Thank you for including the quotes. George Washington’s quote is especially poignant and is so frighteningly applicable today, perhaps more-so than in any previous era…

    • We hadn’t been here in many years so many of the monuments were new to us. It is difficult not to be moved by what each of them represent. As I was reviewing quotes for each of these men, this one jumped out at me, and yes it is frighteningly applicable today.

  • Lucky that the Washington Monument repair is finally complete and you were able to capture some great shots without scaffolding. You two always manage to get in plenty of hiking whether it’s a history filled city like D.C. or the rustic remoteness of the Superstition Mountain. You’re my role model 🙂

    • We volunteered at the re-dedication of the Washington Monument, so were there for the unveiling. We have to find some way to stay in shape and walking seems to fit the bill. 🙂

  • We haven’t been back to DC for more than a decade… It’s a moving virtual tour of the monuments. Thank you, LuAnn. Thank you for sharing these great quotes.
    I felt I had learned about the history of American Revolution from the “John Adams” by McCullough more than I had in school; really leaned about the daily sacrifices… I’m making a slow progress of reading the Lincoln by Doris Goodwin that you recommended.

    • I haven’t read the John Adams book yet but have it on the list. I am a fast reader but do remember how long it took me to read Goodwin’s book on Lincoln. We are about to begin watching the Ken Burns’ series on the Civil War. Thanks for stopping by Amy. 🙂

  • Love the way you captured all the monuments with your commentaries in one post. This is a walking town so even if it is flat you get a work out, and that’s what I liked about DC. Im looking forward to more monuments as there is still a few 🙂 and being there for 4 months I know you will cover them all!

    • We plan to see as much of DC as we can while we are here, although it is not quite the same as hiking in the mountains. 😉

  • The Korean War memorial is my favorite. When we saw it at night, it was amazing. The statues are so life like. I felt like I was walking along side those men.

    I love DC. A Ace that brings our history alive. Great tour!

    • Thanks Marsha. I am hoping to get back to DC at night and see the monuments. I can only imagine how the Korean War Memorial will look when lit.

  • LuAnn, a lovely, lovely post! I enjoyed it very much. Howard and I were there in 1981; I think it is time to go back for a visit. Howard was drafted the next day after he graduated from college and was sent to Vietnam. I have a huge stack of letters he wrote his Mom and Dad.

    Very nice tribute to the monuments and what they represent!

    I also loved the Moma goose and her goslings!

    • We hadn’t been here in 25 years so many of these monuments were new to us. It is difficult to not be moved by these larger than life monuments and remember the sacrifices made by so many.

    • I have to agree with you there Nicole. Terry and I were commenting that even the grass in many areas needed to be cut. We were wondering if this was due to a funding issue.

  • A wonderful tribute to the young men and women who gave their best and for the families who lost their best.

    “They shall grown not old, as we that are left grow old:
    Age shall not weary them, not the years condemn.
    At the going down of the sun and in the morning
    We will remember them.
    Laurence Binyon

  • I love how you chose to share the monuments with your photos. Your narrative read like a novel, so beautiful:) We’ve never seen the monuments at night but photos you see are gorgeous. Looking forward to yours when you get that warm summer evening to enjoy a tour. My favorite is the Korean War Memorial. Each time we visit I see it differently. Our fall visit was the best with the trees just turning colors. The life size soldiers and the reflections that are created in the wall are all so surreal. I always have to wonder and see it from all angles.

    Looks like a great visit with Sherry and David. Glad you had the opportunity to meet up.

    • I think the Korean War Memorial is my favorite as well. The way it has been depicted makes it feel alive to me. I am looking forward to seeing all the monuments lit at night and hope that I can capture a few in photos.

      Hope you have been able to take a break from working and enjoy your time in York.

  • So glad you were able to see the wonderful reminders of what wonderful people we have had in our country who have done things FOR our country. I only wish we had more of those wonderful people NOW. It was cool that you were able to meet new friends, as well. Great pics and lovely words to describe your adventures, as usual.

  • I’m not much of a city gal, but DC is one of my favorites. The power and awe just seems to ooze from the granite. You captured the best of the best and a visit with Sherry and David….. Perfect!

    • We are not much of city folks anymore either but since we are in the area for awhile, we plan to see as much as possible. It was great fun to connect with Sherry and David. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  • Very beautiful and inspiring post, LuAnn — I appreciate how creatively you weave together your words, photos, and quotes.We’re looking forward to experiencing these places in person next spring, and you’re giving us a wonderful preview — it has been at least 25 years since I’ve visited D.C., and many of the memorials are new. (Fun that you got to connect with Sherry and David — we enjoyed our adventures with them in Apalachicola!)

    • Thanks Laurel. It had probably been 25 years since we had been to DC as well and we were surprised at how many of the monuments were new to us.

      It was nice to meet Sherry and David. Given our common interests it was too bad we hadn’t connected while in Florida.

  • I have not yet visited this special place but it is on my radar. Thanks for the tour. We need to get on RV village more. Glad you got to spend time with friends.

  • I’ve seen a couple of these memorials & hope to catch a few more when we go later in the summer. My son loves history. So- we’ll probably let him choose where we end up. I know he’d like to go see the WWII memorial.

  • MLK’s statue there looks the coolest. 😀 The architechture alone and more so with the history, Washington has long been in my bucket list. Thanks for the tour.

  • What a fitting post for the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend. Your photos are beautiful and bring back the feelings we had as we made our way around Washington a few years ago.

    Thank you LuAnn…

  • Love the title…the world needs more punny titles like this! The WWII figures are such grim reading..here is another equally sad yet less well known fact…WWI killed circa 16 million people. Spanish Flu that arrived a year after hostilities ended killed 50 million. The monuments that we as a race build all have an aura about them, it’s tough to describe, like being immersed in a historical event, like it all experiences of that place happening at once. If that makes sense.

    • Thanks Ste J and I know what you mean. I felt as if I was in a time warp when walking around the monuments. It seemed a bit surreal to me. I stood back and watched many people quickly walking past the monuments and thought “don’t they feel it”? For me it was emotional as well as visual.

  • What a great tour of people and history. I’ve never seen any of these! What a treat that you got to meet Sherry and David too.

    • We hadn’t been to DC for 25 years so many were new to us as well. Thanks to RVillage we connected with Sherry and David. 🙂

  • So many of your memorials I saw when we visited the USA, but I must admit I did enjoy Arlington as well… just some how felt in good company there…

  • This post is perfect for this weekend! Thank you for giving us a bit of history with each photo… and beautiful photos as well.

  • Gayl and I are glad you are settled in and having the opportunity to experience living history in person. As a teacher, I always felt that hands on experiences were always the best and you really have confirmed that, Lu and Terry. The fires were never closer to San Elijo than 7 or 8 miles. Hopefully, the same holds true for Bill and Lisa in Sedona.

    • We are trying to experience as much “living history” as we can while in DC. Much has been added since our last visit here ~ 25 years ago. We have been following the fires both in CA and AZ. The drought is making for a very troubling fire season this year. The AZ fire reminds us of the one we experienced when we lived there…very scary.

  • Hi LuAnn what a history filled post . I can imagine it was very moving in many ways seeing these memorials . We have a lot to be thankful for .My husband used to travel to the States frequently and always said I would love Washington . I can see why now .. your photos do seem to have the edge somehow 😉

    • Washington DC is a very exciting city, steeped in history. I think you would enjoy it very much. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  • A wonderful tour of impressive monuments LuAnn. And those quotes are so inspiring. I am at this moment watching our brand new prime minister and his cabinet being sworn in, and hoping that the faith of 850 million people in democracy will not be betrayed yet again.

Love to know what you're thinking.

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