On Sunday morning we had pre-booked tickets for the Washington Monument, an iconic pillar of the D.C. landscape. The distance one can see from the top is quite spectacular, although in a way it is more impressive from outside than in. Apparently if you take the stairs down, there are some very beautiful commemorative stones, one from each state of the union, but we were unsure as to whether these would be sufficiently interesting to justify the 45 minutes it apparently takes to walk down given that we were on a fairly tight schedule.
After this we continued our walk down the Mall from where we had left off on Saturday. The various war memorials are very grand, but also extremely busy with none of the respectful hush that found at the British and Commonwealth memorials I have visited. I found the “families-having-a-lovely-day-out” atmosphere really detracted from the power of these monuments—but we were probably unlucky as others have said that when it’s quiet, the Vietnam Memorial is incredible. Of them all, I thought the Korean War Memorial to be the best as it has more of an artistic quality than the others, and featured some shady spots suitable for contemplation and quiet thought.
After this, we visited the Lincoln Memorial. A quick stop in the small exhibition in its base really put the events of his presidency into context for us, and described some of the many significant events that have occurred at this spot. I thought the atmosphere inside the memorial much more appropriate than elsewhere on the Mall, and the two speeches displayed inside are possibly some of the greatest political oration I have ever read.
Sadly, time was running out on us and we decided that rather than walking around further monuments in the very uncomfortable temperature, we should take in at least some part of the many branches of the Smithsonian museum. The Museum of Americana was chosen as the one most applicable to our being tourists in this foreign country, and I spent a very interesting hour and a half looking at the history of American sandwich boxes, seeing the first ever fully-automatic restaurant, and (more seriously) learning about the epic 1950’s legal battle to end racial segregation in schools. (Some of you may find it amusing if I note all of this was on the ground floor. Why do museums have to be so chock-full of fascinating stuff?)
With so many monuments, museums, and famous sights, Washington D.C. is certainly a fascinating place to visit, and Rosie and I saw only a tiny fraction of what is on offer—I’d definitely like to go back sometime!