If you’re interested in exploring DC memorials quite thoroughly, this tour along the Mall’s Reflecting Pool is for you. We’ll be walking along some of the city’s newest ground that honors the country’s greatest sacrifices.
We start our tour where the city founders started the city. Our path begins at the vortex of the meridians used to map the new capital city. From what is now the base of the George Washington Monument, we wind our way through the memorials that surround the National Mall's Reflecting Pool.
• The stones honoring the country’s Greatest Generation
• A garden commemorating the nation's rebellious founders
• The stark simplicity of the black wall representing the Vietnam era
• A dedication to the president who maintained this country's union, in spite of civil war
• A walk through the fields of Korea alongside the soldiers of every war
• Bonus tracks that expand on theme of ‘Controversies and Compromises’ that each and every memorial has experienced
It’s easy to assume that structures built of granite & marble are unchanging. But that’s hardly the truth about the sites along this walk. Memorials have an initial intent, but new threads to their meaning are woven into their walls all the time.
Our discussions along this walk are a deep dive into the meaning built into these stones. We’ll read the symbolism that the designers intended to be found, as well as add some of our own. We’ll highlight unique stories of the women and men who participated in the events being commemorated. And most importantly, we’ll participate in a continuing conversation that spans generations.
Because America’s national narrative is not set in stone, even if these sacred sites are.
For those interested in viewing the sites along the tour pathway, I’ve created a supplemental video that can be found on my YouTube channel:
George Washington Monument, WW2 Memorial, Constitution Gardens, Vietnam Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Korean Memorial
This tour begins at the Jefferson Pier, which is within the grassy area between the base of the GW Monument and the WW2 Memorial. Car parking in this section of the city is not realistic. Approaching the tour starting point by foot is the most practical. The closest Metro stop is the Smithsonian, although the Federal Triangle stop is also within range. If approaching the city by car, most parking garages are located in the eastern sectors of the city. The closest to this tour's starting point are located in the Federal Triangle area (north of the Mall) or the neighborhood of the new Spy Museum (south of the Mall). Both areas are just off of 12th St.
Places to stop along the way:
There's a sweet memorial to Einstein located very near to the Vietnam grounds, as well as a small rotunda dedicated to DC war veterans in the woods between WW2 and Korea. The tour's path is within an area of the city where there are no traditional business, so coffee shops and restaurants are not to be found along the way. There is a small food kiosk within the Daniel French traffic circle at the end of the tour. If continuing on to the Tidal Basin memorials, there are walkways leading in that direction. It would be approximately 10 more minutes of walking to arrive to that area.
Best time of day:
This walk is unique in that the beauties of the locations are amazing both during the day and at night. All of the sites visited are open-air parks that are accessible 24 hours a day. Park Rangers are only present and available during the days, but the lighting of the memorials in the evenings is quite atmospheric.
Be aware of scheduled events and national holidays that may effect the size of crowds within the city, as well as at specific memorials. Road closings are frequent, although typically only impacting motor vehicles. Pedestrian walkways are almost always open. The tour's path is along consistently flat walkways. All memorials are handicap accessible. On occasion the elevator at the Lincoln Memorial is out of service.
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