Memorials in Washington D.C. & Alexandria, Va
May 23, 2008
|ANOTHER DAY IN WASHINGTON, D.C. AND ALEXANDRIA, VA
Debbie’s brother, Skip Rogers, gave us a tour of several memorials in Washington, D.C. today. On our way into Washington, we saw the Air Force Memorial. It represents the slip streams of three airplanes going skyward in different directions. We also saw the Pentagon and the place where the jet crashed into it on 9/11/2001.
NATIONAL WORLD WAR II MEMORIAL
The World War II Memorial honors the 16 million who served in the armed forces of the U.S., the more than 400,000 who died, and all who supported the war effort from home. Symbolic of the defining event of the 20th Century, the memorial is a monument to the spirit, sacrifice, and commitment of the American people. The Second World War is the only 20th Century event commemorated on the National Mall’s central axis.
The memorial opened to the public on April 29, 2004 and was dedicated one month later on May 29. It flanked by the Washington Monument to the east and the Lincoln Memorial to the west.
In 1996, a two-stage design competition was opened. Out of 400 preliminary designs entered, six were chosen to compete in the second stage which required review by a design jury. After careful review, the design by architect Friedrich St. Florian was chosen.
St. Florian's design consisted of the Rainbow Pool (lowered and reduced in size by 15 percent) in a sunken plaza, surrounded in a circular pattern with 56 pillars (each 17-feet-high) which represent the unity of the U.S. states and territories during the war. Visitors would enter the sunken plaza on ramps which will pass by two giant arches (each 41-feet tall) that represent the two fronts of the war. Inside, there would be a Freedom Wall covered with 4,000 gold stars, each representing 100 Americans that died during World War II. A sculpture by Ray Kasky would be placed in the middle of the Rainbow Pool and two fountains would send water more than 30-feet into the air.
ON A PERSONAL NOTE:
Both Debbie’s father and my father served during World War II. Debbie’s father was in the Army and served at Pearl Harbor, Iwo Jima, Saipan, and other islands. My father was in the Army Air Corps and served in Alaska. We saw several WWII veterans at the memorial and it was an honor to thank them for their service and our freedom.
KOREAN WAR VETERANS MEMORIAL
The Korean War Veterans Memorial was authorized by Public Law 99-572 on Oct. 28, 1986 "…to honor members of the United States Armed Forces who served in the Korean War, particularly those who were killed in action, are still missing inaction, or were held as prisoners of war." The law established an advisory board of 12 veterans appointed by the president to coordinate all aspects of the memorial’s construction. The site is located adjacent to the Lincoln Memorial directly across the reflecting pool from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
The American Battle Monuments Commission managed the project and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provided assistance. The architect of record is Cooper Lecky Architects. President Bill Clinton and South Korean President Kim Young Sam dedicated the memorial on July 27, 1995. Since the dedication several modifications have been incorporated: a kiosk to provide shelter for National Park Service personnel and a computer system with data housing the "Honor Role," which was accessible to the public. Correcting accessibility issues and replacement of the lighting in the statuary and along the mural wall with a state-of-the-art fiber optic system were required. Reconstruction of the pool and tree grove by the National Park Service and Corps of Engineers to improve tree maintenance and operate the reflecting pool was completed in July 1999. The overall cost for the design and construction of the memorial and kiosk was $16.5 million.
There are 19 statues sculpted by Frank Gaylord of Barre, Vt., and cast by Tallix Foundries of Beacon, N.Y. They are approximately 7’3" tall, heroic scale and consist of 14 Army, 3 Marines, 1 Navy, 1 Air Force. They represent an ethnic cross section of America with 12 Caucasian, 3 African American, 2 Hispanic, 1 Oriental, 1 Indian (Native American).
The juniper bushes are meant to be symbolic of the rough terrain encountered in Korea, and the granite stripes of the obstacles overcome in war. The Marines in column have the helmet chin straps fastened and helmet covers. Three of the Army statues are wearing paratrooper boots and all equipment is authentic from the Korean War era (when the war started most of the equipment was WWII issue).
Three of the statues are in the woods, so if you are at the flagpole looking through the troops, you can't tell how many there are, and could be legions emerging from the woods. The statues are made of stainless steel, a reflective material that when seen in bright sunlight causes the figures to come to life. The blowing ponchos give motion to the column, so you can feel them walking up the hill with the cold winter wind at their backs, talking to one another. At nighttime the fronts of the statues are illuminated with a special white light; the finer details of the sculpture are clearly seen and the ghosts appear.
VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a national war memorial located in Washington, D.C., that honors members of the U.S. armed forces who fought in the Vietnam War and who died in service or are still unaccounted for.
Its construction and related issues have been the source of numerous controversies, some of which have resulted in additions to the memorial complex. The memorial currently consists of three separate parts: the Three Soldiers statue, the Vietnam Women's Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, which is the most recognized part of the memorial.
The main part of the memorial was completed in 1982 and is located in Constitution Gardens adjacent to the National Mall, just northeast of the Lincoln Memorial. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is maintained by the U.S. National Park Service, and receives around 3 million visitors each year. The Memorial Wall was designed by U.S. architect Maya Lin. The typesetting was performed by Datalantic in Atlanta, Georgia. In 2007, it was ranked tenth on the List of America's Favorite Architecture by the American Institute of Architects.
The Three Soldiers
A short distance away from the wall is another part of the memorial, a bronze statue named The Three Soldiers (sometimes called The Three Servicemen). Negative reactions to Lin's design created a raging controversy; a compromise was reached by commissioning Frederick Hart (who had placed third in the original design competition) to produce a bronze figurative sculpture in the heroic tradition in order to complement the memorial wall. The statue was unveiled in 1984 and depicts three soldiers, purposefully identifiable as White American, Black American, and Hispanic American. The statue and the Wall appear to interact with each other, with the soldiers looking on in solemn tribute at the names of their dead comrades. The distance between the two allows them to interact while minimizing the impact of the addition on Lin's design.
Also part of the memorial is the Vietnam Women's memorial. It is located a short distance south of The Wall, north of the Reflecting Pool. It was designed by Glenna Goodacre and dedicated on November 11, 1993, to the women of the United States who served in the Vietnam War, most of whom were nurses. The woman looking up is called Hope. The woman praying is called Faith. The woman tending to a wounded soldier is called Charity.
ON A PERSONAL NOTE:
We were able to find Debbie’s brother’s brother-in-law, Glenn E. Heflin’s name on the wall. There were flowers and other remembrances left by the wall. Because it was Memorial Day week-end, there were a lot of veterans at the Wall. It was an honor to also thank them for their service and our freedom. It was a very emotional moment to see all the names and especially Glenn’s.
On Memorial Day, May 30, 1922, the building was dedicated, 57 years after Lincoln died. About 50,000 people attended the ceremonies, including hundreds of Civil War veterans and Robert Todd Lincoln, the president's only surviving son. The main speakers were President Warren Harding, former President William Howard Taft, and Dr. Robert Moton, principal of the Tuskegee Institute, who delivered the keynote address.
New York architect Henry Bacon modeled the memorial in the style of a Greek temple. The classic design features 36 Doric columns outside, symbolizing the states in the Union at Lincoln's death. The building measures 204 feet long, 134 feet wide, and 99 feet tall, with 44-foot columns. It blends stone from various states: white Colorado marble for the exterior, Indiana limestone for the interior walls, pink Tennessee marble for the floor, and Alabama marble for the ceiling.
Daniel Chester French, the leading American sculptor of the day, created the famous statue of Lincoln which dominates the interior. The memorial plans originally specified a 12-foot bronze statue, but it proved out of scale for the huge building. The finished statue is 19 feet tall, carved of 28 blocks of white Georgia marble. French later had special lighting installed to enhance the figure. Visitors sometimes ask if the hands have special significance (such as forming the letter "A" in sign language), but there is no indication French intended it.
ON A PERSONAL NOTE:
It was impressive to see the Lincoln Memorial. We read the “Gettysburg Address” and his “Second Inaugural Address” inscribed on the walls opposite the statue. President Lincoln’s statue looks down over the reflection pool toward the Capital and the country he loved so much.
Debbie’s brother, Skip Rogers, gave us a great tour of Alexandria. He showed us some of the beautiful old colonial homes from the 1700 & 1800’s, cobblestone streets, colonial taverns, the Torpedo Factory from WWII, and the river front.
We had lunch at Gadsby’s Tavern. George Washington frequently enjoyed the hospitality provided here. General and Mrs. Washington attended the annual Birthnight Ball held in his honor in 1798 and 1799.
Other prominent individuals were entertained here including John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and Marquis de Lafayette.
The food was delicious and the atmosphere was amazing thinking that we had lunch where some of the great leaders of our country ate.
The weather was perfect. Clear skies and 75 degrees. What a wonderful day we had.