Washington, DC {Part 3}

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Because 2 parts of adventure is never enough, here is part three of the Washington, DC epic. :)

The next leg of our journey through the Capitol brought us to the Korean War Veterans Memorial. This is a pretty powerful memorial, even when there is a ton of people around.

I think my favorite part of the memorial are the 19 steel statues representative of a squad going on patrol, with men from each branch of the service: fourteen are from the US Army, three from the Marine Corps, one a Navy corpsman (oorah!) and one an Airforce forward air observer. The really amazing thing is the fact that those 19 men are reflected on the cool black granite wall, casting just so that it appears to be thirty-eight soldiers representing the 38th parallel among the sandblasted images of hundreds of American faces.

{looking back}

{follow your comrades}

{looking in the distance}

{ready}

I’ve always found the statues extremely poignant, but the aspect of the memorial that catches me the most are the faces engraved in the black marble. They are diverse and haunting, representative of Americans from all walks of life. They are young and old, from every inch of the American spectrum. I can’t help but imagine the life behind every solemn portrait – who each person was, what they believed, who they loved, their hopes and dreams, the stories of their youth, who they were and who they became.

There is a moment when you’re reflected in history – you are caught in the gaze of the engraved portraits and find your own face staring back amidst the faces of yesterday. That is the moment when you realize the truth of the four words carved into the wall at the entrance to the memorial. Freedom is not free.

{prices paid}

{touching history}

{sons of america}

The Korean War memorial is surrounded by huge magnolia trees dominating from a distance, a splash of soft color amidst the dark green, grey and black of the memorial. It shines back from the small reflecting pool, and the petals carpeted the stone walkway. We brushed them off the bench as the three of us settled for a rest and to talk quietly (and share gummies).

{magnolias}

{reflection}

The Vietnam and Korean War memorials are joined by a few winding paths that cut across the ground between the two. There are small stands of young trees and webs of paved walkways with a few sculptures planted within the cobbles. They capture the emotions so simply, but the emotions are deep and at times unfathomable in the questions they raise and the bonds they testify of.

{brothers in arms}

This sculpture is perhaps my favorite in this little by-the-way memorial. It captures not only the role of women in war at that time, but also the raw emotion behind they felt.

{nurse}

{prayer}

{waiting}

{women of the war}

I think that the Vietnam memorial is one of my favorite memorials because it is so profoundly personal. At first glance, it seems that it would not be. It is two pieces of stone set into the ground, simple in its design and aesthetic. What makes it personal are the 58,267 names engraved on the wall and the crosses, diamonds and circles beside each name.

The three soldiers across the way appear to be looking at the wall. To juxtapose these two separate forms of memoriam is to have the soldiers stand in memory of their fallen comrades, perhaps sharing a memory together of those brothers they’d lost.

The Vietnam memorial is so powerful in that simplicty. Each name, carefully engraved in stone to last. It’s heartbreaking to see the small flags and flowers left at the base of the memorial, to watch as old women lean forward and press their fingers against the letters, to listen as children ask their parents what it all means and to hear that pause before they’re answered.

{left in memory}

{reflection in repose}

{in memory}

As we headed towards the FDR memorial and the Tidal Basin, we passed this lovely little pond with an island and a connecting bridge. Enamored by the magnolias, we went to see what was on the tiny island. It turned out to be a small memorial for those who signed the Declaration of Independence. I failed to get any photos of the memorial itself because I was so caught up snapping photos of the blossoms.

One of my favorite parts was that Bruce spotted a tiny bracelet hanging from one of the branches right beside the bridge – a little wish bracelet. :)

{make a wish!}

{looking through the blossoms}

{white blossoms}

{island willow}

{blossom on the water}

{through the cherry blossoms}

Up next, the FDR memorial and the Tidal Basin (also known as ‘more cherry blossoms!’)! Till then,

Meg

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