Our nation's capital is an engineering marvel & a testament to the can-do attitude of it's people. Though not tecnically a swamp, the watery terrain mandated canals connecting Tiber & James Creeks, turning the mouth of the Anacostia into a deep water port & building a canal to circumvent the tides from the Anacostia to Georgetown. War & other delays would cause a century to pass before city planner Pierre L'Enfant's vision became a reality. The monuments displayed here were built as much to memorialize the words & ideas that were the bedrock of this country as to the men who expressed them. I strongly recommend everyone visit Washington D.C. at least once. Anyone who does will leave with a greater appreciation for their country.
An act of Congress in June 1934 authorized the construction of a memorial to Thomas Jefferson, principal author of the Declaration of Independence & 3rd president of the United States. Architect John Russell Pope modeled the structure after the Roman Pantheon to honor Jefferson's own preference who was himself an architect. The Commission of Fine Arts objected to the Pantheon design fearing it would compete with the Lincoln Memorial. Franklin Rosevelt approved of the design and gave his permission for construction to begin using Pope's design. The memorial's location at the Tidal Basin was also the source of some controversy as it necessitated the removal of some flowering Japanese cherry trees. The building & the statue inside are monuments to both the man & his ideas. Jefferson was a staunch advocate of enlightened thinking, separation of church & state and defender of the yeoman farmer.
At the west end of the National Mall stands the neoclassical monument to our 16th president. Designed after the Greek Parthenon by Henry Bacon, the Lincoln Memorial is 190 ft long, 119 ft wide & about 100 ft high. It is surrounded by 38 Doric columns; 36 for each state in the union at the time of Lincoln's death and an additional two in the portico. Construction began in 1914 and it was opened to the public in 1922. Carved on the interior walls are Lincoln's Second Inaugural & Gettysburg addresses. The interior statue of Lincoln was designed by Daniel Chester French. It is 19 ft high and weighs 175 tons. Driven by an ideal of national unity, Lincoln promoted legislation that abolished slavery and helped preserve the United States through its greates internal crisis, the Civil War.
The most definitive monument on National Mall is without question the Washington Monument. Modeled after Egyption obelisks the four-sided tower soars over 555 ft and is capped by a pyramid of solid aluminum. George Washington's greatness rested not in his prowess as a general, but in his ability to lead & inspire men. Through shear determination he endured harsh winters, mutinies & starvation to lead an under-equipped, under-manned & under-trained rebel army to defeat the most powerful military force in the world. After the victory at Yorktown it was suggested that America form a monarchy with Washington as king. An appalled Washington rejected the proposal without hesitation. In 1783 in what became known as the Newburgh Conspiracy a group of officers set out to use the military to threaten Congress to ensure the army was paid. Washington gave a speech denouncing the effort & expressing his "utmost horror & detestation." After the speech Washington took a letter from his pocket, put on a pair of glasses & said, "Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles for I have grown not only gray, but almost blind in the service of my country." Many of the officers were moved to tears & whatever desires to continue the conspiracy that remained after the speech vanished with that remark. While the other Founding Fathers may have been driven by the cause of freedom, what separated Washington was an unparalleld love of his country.
Click image to enlarge.