May 29, 2009
I took the red eye out of SFO, restless sleep for maybe two hours, landed 3:30 in the morning my time. Yep, ready to exhaust myself with history, cement and teenagers. I had the Super Shuttle drop me off at The Lincoln Memorial. Where else would I go first? My shuttle cohorts point it out in the distance. That's not it, it's so HUGE! Oh, it is? Well, ok! But it's so HUGE! Hoofing it, drawing ever closer, I ended up getting cock-blocked by Terry. Terry was a lovely lesbian who confirmed that this HUGE structure was indeed Lincoln. Of course, you can only see the columns from the side, as my Pres is seated deep inside. Rather than, oh, I don't know, let me visit the memorial, Terry kept flirting with me. She was a nice gal, very helpful with suggestions for sight-seeing. But the anticipation of seeing my man, who was like ten yards away was too much to handle while simultaneously making it clear: I'm no lesbo. Ok, byeee Terryyyy!
Honestly, I was startled by the limitless fashion and stink of the million or so teenagers clogging the steps, but I chose to ignore them and crept up the stairs, unable to prepare my eyes for what I would see.
Three steps from the top, his face peeks through the columns. Its a welcoming, sweet face that beckons you to come closer. And I did. And there he was. Again, let me be clear. HE IS HUGE. His hands pour over the construct of his seat. His feet, Shaqish. The Greek architecture, white, the marble flooring, the massive columns and high, HIGH ceiling promotes a calm and a reverence. It felt like hallowed ground. I took him in from each angle and then realised there was more. To the left, past more columns, carved deep into the wall was the Emancipation Proclamation. Immediately, I recalled memoriizing the first part for extra credit in seventh grade. I stood there and really read the words, really tried to understand their meaning, especially for that time period, what it meant for Americans to hear those words from their President, and I felt sad. The Civil War, slavery - so much death, inhumanity, struggle, so sad.
I turned around and took in the view from the top step. All of it was there: the reflecting pool, the monument, the Capitol building. I felt like Forrest Gump. It was awesome.
I had planned on just staying there, but now that I was in DC, all I wanted was to see and experience everything I could in my one day.
I pulled out my map to effectively navigate the Mall, and headed left for the Vietnam Memorial. A hundred teenagers stood next to the Statue of Three Soldiers, but I bravely investigated anyways. I circled the statue, in awe of the detail, and the way the artist captured the tired and worn spirit of the men. Where was this GD wall?? Then it hit me, it was right in front of me. I didn't realise it because it was so big and so long. I was stunned, and immediately horrified. This many man died for oil, tin and rubber. The tears came almost instantly and could hardly be contained. This giant gash in the earth was erected by the same men that greedily forced a nation's sons to fight for resources and power. I walked by it, stopping only once to feel it. I tried to read at least one name in each section. My pace confused me. I felt like I was moving faster than I wanted to. I passed a grandma and her four grandsons. She had them pose next to the wall for a picture. I looked into their faces to see if they would smile. They didn't. They seemed to understand the solemnity of this moment. I imagine the grandma explained. I moved along, composing myself on my walk.
Coming upon the World War II memorial, the first noticible element - HUGE. Sorry, it just is. It is more expansive than huge. It was finished in 2004 I believe. Each state is represented by a column, and at either end there are atrium sort of structures which are labled "Atlantic" and "Pacific". High inside the atrium are eagle scuptures, their claws curled around a banner. It was very cool to be under. There are fountains and small pewter carvings along the walls which picture troop life, life in America and Americans support of the troops. My grandpa and grandma were both in the navy, and I thought of my grandpa on his ship and my grandma stationed right there in DC. I then thought of my grandma and how I promised to get her pictures of Union Station and how I wasn't going to and I kinda suck like that. Carved in a bench standing next to the structure were these words concerning "the Good War", "Americans Came to Liberate Not to Conquer to Restore Freedom and to End Tyranny." Bullshit. Everything is infused with propaganda -both to justify war and to brainwash you for the next one. It was maddening to think of such things in the presencse of such a structure. I'll leave it at that or I'll just get preachy.
Everyone said, "The FDR Memorial is freakin' tits! Go see it." So I did. I walked the long walk around the basin to get there. For kicks, and to liven up this entry, I decided to type word for word what I recorded on my hand held after enjoying the memorial. Here it is..
I'm at the FDR Memorial. It is amazing as people have said. It just goes on forever. There are so many elements to it. I'm at the end here. Inscribed on the wall
Freedom of speech
Freedom of worship
Freedom from want
Freedom from fear
Like that will ever be realized.
There is a lot of elements of water, and building, and anti poverty here...that's pretty cool.
And he likes his dog. And my feet hurt.
Oh, and I'm surrounded by teenagers.
I followed the basin around to the Jefferson Memorial. It looks sort of like the Lincoln Memorial but its Jefferson and he's standing up. The columns and stairs are there. Also, each side is open to air, whereas Lincoln is enclosed on three sides. So there ya go. I was pretty miserable by this guy, with my feet and my back in strife. Plus, I kept meshing in with teenagers, confusing them and their teachers. There wasn't the same feeling of reverence because 1) the teens were blathering away and 2) I just kept thinking about Jefferson being a slave owner.
If you've made it to the end of this post, you have quite an attention span. Thanks for reading. Part 2 to be forthcoming. I just can't blog anymore today.