The Lincoln Memorial attracts nearly 6million visitors every year, making it the Most Visited US Monument. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, with 4million visitors, and the World War II Memorial, with 3.7million, make up the top three. Six of the top ten are in Washington, DC.
Washington DC – Been There

A stirring vista of American history

Photo by Frédéric Reglain

Washington DC – Been There A stirring vista of American history

From the Marine Corps War Memorial, I walk over Arlington Memorial Bridge, which symbolically links North and South as it passes from Virginia to Washington itself, and from Lee’s home to the Lincoln Memorial.

Kieran Meeke
Kieran Meeke Travel Writer

Lincoln’s brooding statue may have his back turned on Arlington but his words from the Gettysburg Address of 1863 are a clarion call to the memory of all those buried there. Engraved on the neo-classical temple, its design making us forget it dates only to 1922, they ring through the centuries: “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.”

Lincoln looks to the Washington Monument twinned in the recently refurbished Reflecting Pool and the center on which the National Mall pivots. Beyond is the shining dome of the Capitol, fronted by a memorial to U.S. Grant and the Civil War. This vista has seen much history – from Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech (marked by a small plaque on the steps), to Forrest Gump wading through the pool to sweep up Jenny in his arms.

However, when I ask the Park Ranger here what is the most common question asked by visitors, it turns out to be “Where are the washrooms?”. These icons are so familiar that few questions need asked and the solemnity of the inside calls mainly for hushed awe. That is even more true as I walk on to visit the Korean War Veterans Memorial, with its adhoc squad of servicemen immortalized as stainless steel statues and a reminder that “Freedom is not Free”.

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A US Navy Veteran stands by the Korean War Veterans Memorial, which marks the war from 1950 to 1953 during which 54,246 Americans died from the 5.8million who served in the US armed services. The 19 stainless steel statues represent servicemen from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force. Photo by Frédéric Reglain

Frédéric Reglain

Frédéric Reglain

Canon EOS 5D

Aperture
ƒ/9/1
Exposure
1/160
ISO
400
Focal
31/1 mm

A US Navy Veteran stands by the Korean War Veterans Memorial, which marks the war from 1950 to 1953 during which 54,246 Americans died from the 5.8million who served in the US armed services. The 19 stainless steel statues represent servicemen from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force.

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