How can you pick a favorite?
The Washington Monument is recognizable around the world. Standing just over 555 feet high, it’s the tallest stone structure in the world. A flag of each of the 50 states surrounds the marble, granite and sandstone obelisk. Tickets to tour the inside were no longer available for the weekend we were there. They can be obtained in person (but sell out quickly early in the morning) or by going to http://www.reservation.gov and purchasing the normally free tickets online for a very small fee.
Isn’t Abraham Lincoln the favorite president of every American child at some point? His marble memorial is stunning. Over 19 feet tall, this statue of the beloved president gazes between marble columns across the reflecting pool to the Washington Monument. Inspiring inscriptions from the Gettysburg address and Lincoln’s 2nd inaugural address are carved into the walls. Words that are as applicable today as they were when uttered in 1863: "It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
The Jefferson Memorial is situated across the Potomac River from the Washington Monument, in West Potomac Park. In 2 days of traversing the National Mall, we were just too tired to walk that last 20 miles (slight exaggeration) over to this memorial. Fortunately, an unexpected need to rent a car and drive to Baltimore (BWI airport) took us right past Mr. Jefferson and we took a detour to see his marble Memorial. Of all the wonderful and inspirational quotes from our nation’s great leaders, Thomas Jefferson’s struck me as most progressive and pertinent to our time:
"I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."
"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors."
"Almighty God hath created the mind free...All attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens...are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion...No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship or ministry or shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion. I know but one code of morality for men whether acting singly or collectively."
Below the monument is a small museum and gift shop. Be sure to stop there for more interesting information on this great man. Oh! And be sure to take a look at his really cool copy machine in the display of his desk and writing instruments.