I read them a lot when I first started working for a travel company, because I needed to describe them in my own words for websites, blogs, etc. So I read about the different parts to each memorial, and I was amazed. Because I didn’t realize there were so many parts to any given memorial and that each part held significance. E.g., Oh, it’s not just a statue of the guy, his words are inscribed behind him! Very cool.
So I dutifully read and felt inspired and then wrote about the bronze and granite and artistic design and inspirational words that make up all the amazing monuments and memorials on and around the National Mall.
THEN I WENT TO THEM.
I stood at President Lincoln’s feet in the awe-inspiring Lincoln Memorial. I walked around the soldiers in the Korean Memorial, moved by the intense expressions on their faces (pictured above). I ran my hand along the pillars that make up the World War II Memorial. And, it only took me a moment to realize, no reading can compare to actually being there.
The thing that struck me the most, over and over, was the amazing detail in every memorial we visited. Suddenly I wanted to not only be there but to be holding written literature on everything I looked at. Why did they use this material? Why the wreaths at the World War II Memorial? Does every single face on the Korean Memorial wall mean something specific or were some themes repeated? I was astounded over and over by these details. I’d read enough to know that the designers of these memorials put thought into each and every aspect, and suddenly I was fascinated to know each and every one.
The monuments and memorials on the National Mall are practically a given for Washington DC group travel tours of any kind. And all I can say is, look closer. Don’t rush through these deeply inspiring scenes. I would even recommend you take a guide with you or interesting literature, because there’s so much more in every detail than you can imagine just by looking.