|Reasoning that I should not get up for my morning walk during New Year’s Day – a holiday,
right? – I stayed in bed and slept in an extra hour only to rethink the wisdom of having done so after breakfast. To compensate for it, I got my photo gear bag and headed for the National Mall in Washington, DC.Parking near the National Mall is just about impossible during the warm months of the year but New Year’s Day was a bright, sunny and a bit chilly and still early in the morning so I had lots of parking options available to me. I chose a spot near the FDR Memorial and started my walk, first around the Tidal Basin before heading for the western portion of the Mall.
So first, the FDR Memorial. This is a great favorite of mine during the summer months, especially at night with the long shadows, the view of the Washington Monument across the basin and the illuminated waterfalls all around the memorial. During the day, and especially during the cold weather months of the year, it is not as impressive except for the words of wisdom carved in stone throughout the memorial, but it is also a convenient starting point to walk around the basin and to reach the rest of the Mall.
The sun was still very low in the horizon so looking across the basin from the FDR Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial was well defined against the background and against the water in front of it, and once in the memorial the white columns that are all around the monument looked majestic against the blue sky . This time of the year it is cold in the monument as the wind comes from all directions through the open rotunda.
Next was the World War II Memorial on the other side of the Tidal Basin. There is some work being done at the site, plus the cold weather would freeze the water, so the fountain which is an integral part of the monument was drained. This is a large place, or so it seems perhaps because it is an open space. By now the sun was brighter and much higher in the sky creating deep shadows, not necessarily good for pictures.
A short walk later and past the Lincoln Memorial is the Vietnam War Memorial. This place feels different, as being in church, perhaps. Despite the number of people there by that time, there was silence in their procession going from end to end, their reflections on the wall, inscribed with the names of the casualties of this war, a muted image of the visitors. At most of the other monuments there is respect; this one has feeling.
South from the Vietnam War Memorial and across the Reflecting Pool is the lesser known Korean War Veterans Memorial where sculptures of soldiers stand among juniper bushes. I find it so interesting that, as statues go, the statues of soldier show them in rain gear and communications equipment, including radio antennas. I really like this place.
Coming back to my car I stopped at the Martin Luther King Memorial. I am a huge admirer of Martin Luther King and every time I listen to his “I have a dream” speech I get goose bumps; as a lover of history, I think he is one of the great historic figures of the US; and as an ethnically different person myself and as part of a minority population in this country, I identify with his cause so I want desperately to like this monument. I also think that I do understand what was attempted to be accomplished, but somehow the poetic idea of “….The detachment of the Stone of Hope from the Mountain of Despair….” seems to me short of justice for Martin Luther King. But I remember, too, that the Vietnam War Memorial which was very controversial when inaugurated, has grown into people’s heart as time has passed so maybe in the future, I, too, will understand this memorial; maybe I am just alone thinking of it as I do.
Sorry….I got a bit verbose today so before I forget, here is a link to the pictures.
Making Smiles into Memories