With my trusty bike by my side, I was off. I started out not knowing where to go but followed the sky to the tallest thing in it, the Washington Monument. The omnipresent structure calls out to all the city of Washington representing in boastful beauty, the power of democracy. It enthralls the viewer with its boldness and dignity. A hopeful spire releases the tension of the sky, splitting the clouds and nestling itself with the birds, providing a perch to sing. The people below frolic in its shadow, an awed grim on their faces. Bestowed among a huge plain of grass, the mighty land in which it stands provides the backbone of our country.
World War II Monument:
Thrusting through the ground spurts water fountains, blasting from the earth like cannons, missiles hitting the earth with their treacherous power. I come to it slowly, taking in all the states and territories listed along the monument. Split down the middle, a body of water splitting domed entrances labeled Atlantic and Pacific. US states and territory columns line the memorial, embracing one another. Respect for the men and women from each of those states and territories filled my every sense.
How incredible! The steps were covered with people sitting, comfortable in his shadow. His presence warm and inviting, sending out his infinite love for America. The size of his presence and his greatness spans all nations. People from all over the world in awe over him. His massive size captivating the viewer, almost reachable, I reach out my hand to touch his incredible shoes. I stop myself, for a man of this stature deserves more than just a physical embrace, it is through his unselfish acts I give him more than that, I give him a promise.
Korean War Memorial:
Men lined like warriors, hearts heavy with the metal that make them up. Tired and war-torn, faces intense yet confused, the men walk with rifles at their sides. Their large trench coats hiding the pain of their sacrifice. The sea of faces on granite erected next to the sculptures bring life to "The Forgotten War" reminding us all of American patriotism, devotion to duty and human courage.
Vietnam War Memorial:
The most strikingly powerful memorial, I'm drawn to it and at the same time want to hide from it. My black reflection stares me dead in the eye. Letters sketched along the wall, intercept my reflection with a hurtful reminder of what war creates. The wall engraved with the dead. The sister/brother/son/daughter rubbing a piece of charcoal against paper, against stone trying to get a piece of evidence proving their soldier's sacrifice. I stand and acknowledge my own privileges, my own fortunes that have kept me from harm's way. I stand next to these names trying to piece it all together. Why must war tear these names away from the ones they love? My mind thickens with thought as I notice my reflection again, names from the past staring at my privilege, I stand thankful.
Thomas Jefferson Monument:
A good ride around the Tidal Basin, trees hanging low over the cracked sidewalks, led me to the Pantheon residing our Third American President. His love for architecture evident in the creator's design, the beautiful greek style fitting for such an extraordinary man. The inventor, the architect, the drafter of the Declaration of Independence, the President, Jefferson stands as someone everyone strives to be at their greatest. His quotes filled the room with thought. People looking up and reading such divine messages of knowledge brought enlightenment.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men. We . . . solemnly publish and declare, that these colonies are and of right ought to be free and independent states. . . And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."
Hidden in the trees, I found the last Memorial of my day. He was sitting carefully in his wheelchair, back straightened, hand in pocket. Courageous and withstanding the stigmas put around his disability, his strength and powerful decisions made effecting the world still today. He was any man you'll ever meet yet the greatest man you'll ever meet. Four rooms representing four terms led me on a maze discovering the beauty and tragedy in which America went through during his times as president. Waterfalls discovered in the rooms get larger and more complex as the walk continues much like the complexities of world war and economic depression complexed the life of the 32nd president.