Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Washington D.C. Monuments and Memorials Walking Tour

I recently spent a week in the other Washington (D.C. that is) for a conference and had two days to wander about the National Mall prior to heading south to National Harbor.

First impression was the number of monuments, memorials, and museums contained within the National Mall and surrounds is nearly overwhelming.  How could I possibly see everything in two days?  Well, the answer is, I could not.

We began the morning by walking the Mall and visiting many of the monuments, memorials, and government buildings.  Beginning at Congress, we moved onto the White House and then turned south towards the Mall.  Stop one was at the WWII Memorial.  Quite expansive oval surrounded by pillars each carrying the name of a state or protectorate.

and then on to the Lincoln Memorial.

Followed by stops at the Vietnam Memorial,

Korean Memorial,

and finishing up at the Jefferson Memorial.

To me, the Vietnam and Korean Memorials offered an interesting juxtaposition.  The young lads of the Vietnam bronze are focused, gazing at the names of their fallen comrades on the Vietnam Memorial wall.  These guys look very young, likely barely out of their teens.  I didn't sense anxiety or the effects of stress in either their faces or body positions.

The statues in the Korean Memorial evoke an entirely different emotion.  First, the Memorial is quite haunting with a sense of isolation and despair.  Second, these are not the young men from Vietnam!  Members of the Korean Memorial all appear to be seasoned and grizzled veterans, inured to the hard life of campaigning.  For these men, war does not seem a great adventure.  I selected two of the individual statues to highlight.  In their faces, I see anxiety and weariness as they brace against the harsh weather.  I fail to get the same emotion when viewing the young men in the Vietnam bronze work.

Both Memorials are striking but, for me, the Korean War Memorial really delivers the more profound emotional hit.  Had I visited on the snowy Monday rather than the sunny Saturday, the impact would have been even more profound.  


  1. Interesting pics. Thanks for sharing them. They do look as both very different. I imagine the atmosphere seeing them in the flesh so to speak is a lot different to just viewing the photos.

  2. Great pics, thanks for sharing.

    I got to walk the same memorials after a work trip a few years back. The Lincoln Memorial choked me up. The wall too, with all the things people left behind and the older vets. It was all very moving, leading to much introspection and thought about how we end up in these conflicts and those called on to serve.

    1. What choked me up most at the Vietnam Memorial wall were the people making etchings of the servicemen's (and women's) names engraved into the wall or the excitement of finding a loved one's name on the wall. Very moving.

  3. You could spend a week in DC and not come close to seeing everything of interest. Arlington (just across the Potomac) is also definitely worth a visit as well, along with the Smithsonian and so many others

    1. I agree that there is much to see in D.C. We did visit several of the Smithsonian museums but details may be in a follow-up post.

  4. Korean War Memorial is my favorite.


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