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Monday, October 3, 2011

Memories and Memorials

I arrived in D.C. on Thursday, and on Friday my friend Debbie and I took a walking tour through D.C. just like we did three years ago. Lots of places and situations evoked memories of earlier visits to D.C. like the heat, the joggers in the Mall, the confusing street system, and the sheer endlessness of the Mall.

Although it was the same place, and the same person I visited it with things seem to have changed. The last time we went to the Mall in twilight, and while we walked there the sun set. This is probably why the Korean War Memorial has become my favourite memorial in Washington D.C.. I remember walking along, and suddenly seeing soldiers appearing next to me. The scene looked very real, and had a great effect. I still like the memorial but this time I realised that it had a fence around it, and looked a lot more on display then how I remembered it. Something I haven't seen before was the wall behind the soldier statues showing images of the troops fighting in the war but at the same time reflecting the visitors, the present.

While my memory of the Korean War Memorial was faulty some things had actually changed. Due to renovation and the recent earthquake in D.C.  some sights were not as presentable as the were before.  The Reflecting Pool has virtually disappeared, and all that is left is this:

The Washington Monument is undergoing repair because it has gotten a crack during the earthquake. Last time I was there too late to go on top, this time it was closed. I guess I will have to come back!

As most of the Mall seemed to resemble the cultural and economical decline of the US there is 'a stone of hope'. The latest memorial at the Mall is the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. Walking towards it it was really impressive, this massive stone with a pathway in the middle that then turns out to be Martin Luther King. The memorial is set against the Tidal Basin with the Jefferson Memorial on the other side. Personally I am not sure whether I like the posture in which Martin Luther King is displayed. He looks defensive and stubborn. I do like how he emerges out of the stone, and how that refers back to his quote on the side of the Memorial.

I think I would have preferred something along the lines of this photograph in the American History Museum.

The last time I was in Washington the American History Museum was undergoing renovation. So the last time I had seen it was in 2006. They have taken down the original Star-spangled Banner from the entrance hall and replaced it with this artwork to protect the original from too much light fading it. I love the replacement.


Tess Malone said...

Wow, I thought the only consequences of the earth quake were toppled chairs, I didn't realise it had impacted the Mall so much! Not seeing a reflecting pool is quite sad. Did you go to the FDR memorial? It's my favourite! I agree that the MLK memorial looks very defensive, not exactly an accurate representation of the pacifist that MLK actually was. Still, it's good he as a memorial.

The American History Museum is a nice treat. I love the Julia Child kitchen!

Caroline said...

I agree. It was about time that he received a memorial. Today I am going to do more things from your list Tess! For example baked and wired, the National Portrait Gallery. I have been to some places already like busboys and poets.

Debbie said...

The earthquake affected the Washington Monument and the National Cathedral, the Cathedral got it worse and has been closed since the quake. Some of the spires fell and concrete statues fell too.

The Reflecting Pool renovation is unrelated to the earthquake, it's looked like that for months, it's awful!