Happy Travel Tuesday everyone! I wish I could tell you it’s been a productive day, but I’ve spent most of it recovering from last night (it’s no fun getting older). Today is Veteran’s Day in the U.S., and since I’ve spent most of it being lazy, I wanted to make some effort to reflect a bit on the day and what it means. I’ve been wanting to do a post for a while now about my favorite memorials in Washington, D.C. and I think this is the perfect week – and day – to do just that!
Most of the memorials in D.C. are located along or within the National Mall and Memorial Parks; areas which are managed by the National Park Service. All memorials are free and open year round unless there is a special event. In addition to various memorials, the National Mall also features fountains, walking paths, and a few museums (just the Smithsonian museums – no big deal…). This makes it a gorgeous place to spend a day – or few (smile). However, today’s focus is on two of my particular favorite memorials that are actually located away from the National Mall in Arlington, Virginia.
I just want to say now that although I happened to find these memorials very moving personally, all of them – on the National Mall and off – are worth a visit. It’s really amazing to see all of the different interpretations from various architects and to learn about the history behind each site. No matter how you may feel about any one element of a memorial, they all make for unique opportunities to pause and reflect on the commitment of individuals – whether you agree with the politics or not, it’s important to respect the sentiment of dedication behind each person/place/event.
Air Force Memorial
The Air Force Memorial is located in Arlington, Virginia very near the Pentagon. The monument was dedicated in October 2006 and is composed of three memorial spires ranging from 201 to 270 feet high. The spires are meant to evoke a modern image of flight. The number three is also important representing the three core values and is also the smallest number of elements needed to define and enclose a space. Each of the spires is a different height, causing the views to be different at every angle.
I feel a certain affinity for this particular memorial for a couple of reasons – most of my family in the service have spent time in the Air Force, I really like the location, and the spires are pretty significant. The memorial sits on a slight hill and features stunning views of the surrounding landscape. I also appreciate the fact that you can pretty easily tell what the memorial is meant to represent with very basic knowledge about the Air Force (some are a bit more “abstract”). It’s a quiet area away from the crowds, making this memorial the perfect place to relax and reflect. On Friday nights, the Air Force band plays free concerts, which are well worth a stop given the venue and talent (smile).
Marine Corps War Memorial
The Marine Corps War Memorial is also located in Arlington, Virginia near the cemetery. The memorial is also known as the Iwo Jima Memorial as it depicts one of the most famous incidents of World War II. However, it is a memorial dedicated to all Marines who have given their lives in the defense of the United States since 1775. The memorial is based on an award winning photo by Joe Rosenthal of an actual flag raising that took place upon securing the island of Iwa Jima in February 1945. The memorial itself was dedicated in November 1954.
The memorial is a bit secluded and features a rather sizable park surrounding the statue. It’s a quiet place perfect for learning a bit of history; the statue is a perfect representation of a rather poignant moment in a notable event. I found it almost impossible not to be moved by the sight of the statue – even without knowing the entire history behind it. I knew I’d seen the photo, but coming upon the statute for the first time (quite by accident actually), was a rather striking sight. On Friday evenings during the summer months, you can watch the Marine Corps Sunset Parade featuring the Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Corps. It’s a free event and the perfect opportunity to see an amazing military ceremony and to show support for men and women in uniform. The afternoon I went, I even got to see Hilary Clinton (this is probably as close as I’ll ever get…)!
Happy Veteran’s Day!!