Field after field of white monuments. It is a sad and confronting place. So many lives lost. Such a waste of talent and so many lives lost without proper planning, training or consideration of the outcomes. Much was done for the right reasons, however, the loss has been staggering.The men and women killed were aged between 17 and 23 on average.
The tomb of the unknown soldier in four wars is guarded 24 hours per day every day of the year, rain, hail, snow, or terrorist attack without fail. Even of the day of the attack on the Pentagon, the soldiers stayed at their post. The changing of the guard happens every hour. The guard marches 21 steps along a rubber mat which has foot prints in it from the hours of repetition. At the end of his 21 steps he turns, changes his weapon from one sholder to the other , waits 21 seconds and returns to the other end, and repeats this for an hour.
Changing of the Guard, Tomb of the unknown soldier. Rain, hail, snow, shine, or terrorist attack; nothing will stop the soldiers guarding the tomb.
Also saw the monument to commemorate the taking of the the island of Iwo Jima from the Japanese in 1942.
After all that we needed to eat so headed to the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown Washington.
Memorials and remembering day for us in Washington DC- Part One
Such a big day today – will have to do it in two posts. Stay tuned, more to follow.
We started the day with waiting in the lovely sun outside Union Station listening to a man sing about Jesus. It sounded like he had done it all day the day before at least due to his voice cracking and disappearing completely at times. We waited for the Old Town Trolley to take us around the city. This is the same mob we used when we ‘did’ Boston. Very organised, very safety conscious, and great fun.
The journey around Washington was fascinating and the buildings are beautiful. The have all been built over various periods. I saw one that was probably built in the 70’s as it looked just like a building my Dad was involved in designing, which is now the Duxton Hotel in Perth.. The windows were the same deep recessed rectangular style.
Anyway, the day was sunny and the commentary was pacey with a smattering of laughs and questions along the way.
My favourite stop was Stop Number 10, the Lincoln Memorial. We got off here and saw, Martin Luther King’s memorial, one for the Korean War and of course, The Lincoln Memorial.
I cried at the Lincoln Memorial – fancy that eh. I was just so pleased to finally be there. I had wanted to see that sculpture my whole life, and I really have no ties to America per se. Maybe its just that I’m just an emotional person, but the grandeur of the place. The collosal size of the man on his seat. The craftsmanship of the sculpture. Just amazing, and beautiful.
I must say I really have a penchant for sculpture, both creating and looking at it.
After Lincoln and my emotional response, I gathered myself and we wandered down the path to a group of sculptures in an area of shrubs. They were slightly larger than lifesize and represented soldiers in the Korean War. There was also a granite wall with photographs etched into it. Really nice memorial.
Next we wandered further and found the Martin Luther King Memorial. His “I have a dream”speech, which was presented at the Lincoln Memorial included the words “out of the mountain of dispair, a stone of hope”
Here is the mountain represented.
Once we had looked at this piece for a while and watched 72 8th graders wander around and hang off each other to have their photos taken, we went back to our pickup point for the Arlington shuttle to Arlington Cemetary. I spoke to a teacher supervising the students who were being asked to move on quickly so others could take photos, and she said ‘we are trying to encourage, self awareness’. We both laughed.
The shuttle took us to Virginia – just like that and we arrived at the cemetary ready for our tour. We had been told to go into the visitors centre to get our tickets processed – because “people were printing off copies” – so we queued as you do and waited, then when we reached the counter – we were handed two tickets which we thought would cost us – depending on who you spoke to – anything from $9-$12 each. So with our free tickets in hand – off we went.
The bus for the tour was a small trolley and that posed a problem for the larger members of our community.
I’m not a fan of America/Americans either positive or negative – some of the things they do I don’t agree with, but I think they do, do some things extremely well.