A two hour walking tour of the National Mall Monuments
Washington DC is a city rich with history, tradition and a whole lotta culture. I’ve been visiting since I was a little kid and now that we live less than ten miles from the DC line, we visit downtown often! It wasn’t until recently when my brother was visiting from Atlanta that I realized how little I remembered from the many tours I’ve taken over the years.
Our Uncle does guided walking tours of various neighborhoods in Washington DC and was graciously willing to give our family a tour of the monuments even though it’s not included in his normal route. We learned SO MUCH and I’m sharing some things I learned from his tour and from doing additional research after!
Lock Keepers House
The Lock Keepers House is the oldest house on the National Mall and was built in 1837. It was built for toll collecting and record keeping. Since then it’s been used as the headquarters for the United States Park Police, public restrooms and storage. The street and intersections have grown over the years so the house has been moved a few times, but sits today restored to its 1800’s appearance and serves as a National Park Service. education center
Fun Fact: The house has moved locations a few times and you can see the previous spots marked by faded bricks on the sidewalk!
The National Monument
Construction of The National Monument started in 1848, but wasn’t complete until 1884. It was built to commemorate George Washington and is made of marble, granite, bluestone gneiss. The fifty American flags around the monument represent the fifty states.
Fun Fact: The Monument is now open again for indoor tours! It was closed for years for renovation, but just opened!
World War II Memorial
The World War II Memorial is dedicated to Americans that served in the war during World War II. It sits on the edge of the Reflecting Pool between the Lincoln Memorial and the National Monument. The pool in the middle and the pillars circling the pool are beautiful and it’s one of the most interesting memorials in my opinion because visitors always want to take a photo with the pillar that represents their state. Millions of visitors come to Washington DC each year, but to see everyone spread out getting photos with their state is really cool to see.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial honors service members of the US Armed Forces, service members who died in service in Vietnam/South East Asia, and those who died/went missing and were unaccounted for after the war. The monument itself is made of two long granite walls and is etched with the names of those being honored. There are over 58,000 names on the two walls and names are still being added today.
Something I had never noticed, but Uncle Paul pointed out that there are small symbols next to the names on the wall. These symbols designate those that have been declared dead and ones that are unknown. It was heartbreaking to see the names of those who are no longer with us due to unknown reasons.
Near the two granite walls is also the monument pictured below. This is the Women’s Memorial which is dedicated to the women who served, mostly nurses. The memorial is of three women in uniform with a wounded soldier and as a child of two nurses it was very moving to think of the Vietnam War and those who were lost, but also those who sacrificed to help.
Abraham Lincoln was killed in April 1865, but by 1867 a committee had been formed to start the design and construction of a monument in the 16thPresident’s honor. That monument stands today in Washington DC and is designed by Architect Henry Bacon who modeled it after the Greek Parthenon. However, the entrance on the Parthenon can be found on the sides of the building as opposed to the front like it is on the Lincoln Memorial.
Two things I found incredibly interesting:
Two of his most famous speeches are inscribed on the North and South Walls of the memorial- The Gettysburg Address and his second inaugural address.
The placement of his hands have many meanings including potential sign language ties and to represent his demeanor as President.
I’ve been to the top of the Lincoln Memorial many times over my lifetime, but had never noticed the Martin Luther King Jr. stone until Uncle Paul pointed it out! It’s placed in the exact spot MLK Jr. gave his I Have a Dream Speech and it’s a wonderful tribute.
Washington DC has no shortage of things to do or museums to visit, but with Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner family visits are filling the calendar. Take your friends and family to see these incredible historical landmarks or save them for a visit in the Spring when it’s a littttttle bit warmer and the Cherry Blossoms are blooming!