In November, I was lucky enough to tag along with my husband on his work trip to Washington, D.C. Free hotel room? IN! I’d never been to D.C. before and I was really excited. I packed the warmest clothes this Texas girl owns and I bought a REAL coat and gloves. LOL My husband had a really packed work schedule so we only got the last evening to sightsee together. Although, he had been to D.C. for work before, he had never been to the monuments. I knew that the monuments were a MUST for me. By the time he got off work it was dark. Thankfully, the monuments are open 24 hours. At first I was a little concerned about going at night. Would they be as awe inspiring? Would I be able to see the detail or would some things get lost?
OH. MY. GOSH. It was AH-MAZING! The lighting only made them even more powerful and moving.
We started at the Lincoln Monument. My heart sped up as we got close to it. The lighting behind the columns was so dramatic and seeing the statue of Lincoln in his chair with the lighting around was awesome. The walls to each side of Lincoln have an engraving from his famous speeches. The ceiling is even dramatic and beautiful. It seems amazing that something so gorgeous is outside. There is a small museum on the grounds but it’s kind of hidden. My husband asked a park ranger where there was a restroom. If you are looking at Lincoln, the museum is to the left and below the main stairs. Restrooms, warmth and his famous quotes made this a hidden gem.
We walked to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and admired the way the Washington Monument reflects off of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. At the beginning of the memorial there is a book that lists all the names and where you can find them on the wall. The book is really thick and it’s so sad to see how many soldiers perished in the war. We walked quietly on the path. We would pause to read the names and think of how they were someone’s father, son, and friend. There were so many names…..As the wall ends there is a path that leads to the Vietnam Women’s Memorial. I was looking forward to seeing this. I listened to a podcast where they interviewed Diane Carlson Evans. She is a former Army nurse that spearheaded the campaign to place a national monument in D.C. to recognize the contributions of military women. It was a long hard 10 year fight to get the statue. A congressman even compared the statue for women to one of dogs. Her interview hurt my heart and seeing the memorial was really emotional. Someone had place a laminated thank you card that read,”NAM 66-67 I can’t remember your name but I just wanted to say thank you for saving my life.” It’s signed “One of Many”! At this point the tears flowed freely down my cheeks. My husband, who is a retired Army veteran, was sniffling alongside me.
We cris-crossed our way to the Korean War Veterans Memorial. There are 19 stainless steel statues of solders walking through high grass. In the dark it was a bit unnerving and it made me think of how scary it must have been for the soldiers that are depicted. A bit of research showed that my reaction was what the creator, Frank C. Gaylord, intended. He wanted visitors to be confronted by the reality of actual war. The memories of the faces of the men he served with became the models for the soldiers. The memorial also includes a mural wall designed by Louis Nelson. It’s black granite etched with faces of military support personnel, nurses, truck drivers, chaplains and medics.
We walked a bit and crossed the street to the Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial. You enter the monument through the “Mountain of Despair”. The memorial reflects the struggle that Dr. King faced during his life. His quotes are etched into the stone and so many of them apply to our world today. In the center of the memorial is the “Stone of Hope” where a carving of Dr. King gazes to the horizon. The memorial sits on the water and it creates a peaceful border.
By this time we were famished and frozen so we called a Lyft and went to dinner. We returned to the Mall to see the Washington Monument. Unfortunately, it is closed for repairs but we got as close as we could. I highly recommend visiting the monuments after dark. There is a reference and quiet that I fear would be missed during the day. The only downside I can see is that the lights made it difficult to photograph. We will be returning to see the monuments we missed. I’m thinking a nice summer evening will be perfect.