There is honestly nothing that I have done so far during my short stint as a D.C. inhabitant that has been more memorable to me than my trip to see the monuments at night (besides my short “vacation” here with my family of course).
If anyone reading this ever visits Washington from now until eternity, this is such a timeless, astonishing, and inspiring thing to do that literally any American can appreciate.
Around 10 p.m., a group of five of us girls from Butler departed from the 5th floor of 2807 Connecticut Ave NW and ventured by foot and by Metro to take a tour of the D.C. monuments. Here is a picture of us before leaving:
ABOVE: Girls before leaving for the nighttime monument tour. From left: Christy, Amanda, Hayleigh, Katie, Olivia.
The tour started with the Washington Monument. My family and I didn’t really spend much time at this monument, only bothering to take a few pictures in front of it. Honestly, the reason why is because I really just don’t find it that exciting during the day. I’ve never really felt a connection to it, for whatever reason. Wow, did this monument trip change that.
The nighttime air was crisp, it was uncharacteristically windy, and the sky was beyond clear. Walking up to the monument, I just felt this rush of unbelievable awe come over me and all of the sudden I realized it: I was smack dab in the middle of our nation’s capital, and I got to stay there for however long I wanted to.
No matter how many pictures I took of this experience, none could fully convey how beautiful it was. Even after 10 pm, there were still plenty of people there, laying on the benches that were below the circle of crisp, red, glowing American flags that were blowing wildly in the wind and staring up at the proud and tall Washington Monument, one of the city’s most well-known symbols.
Because none of the pictures were turning out quite as I wanted them, I decided to videotape the experience. Below is a video of us at the Washington Monument followed with some photos. It was really windy like I said, so I apologize about any wind sounds coming through your computer speakers!
The rest of our stops went in the following order: (First, The Washington Memorial), The Lincoln Memorial, the WW2 Memorial, the Vietnam War memorial, the Korean War memorial, the FDR memorial, and the Jefferson memorial.
My favorite out of all of them was probably the Washington Memorial just because I have such vivid video to remember it by and because it was the first one that I saw at night, but it would definitely be followed closely by the Lincoln Memorial (obviously), the FDR memorial, and the WW2 memorial. Ahh– Also the Jefferson memorial! As you can see, they all really did leave a lasting impression.
The most emotional of the monuments was definitely the Vietnam War memorial because of its solemnness. There is just something about the WW2 memorial that is glorious and hopeful, likely because the Allies won the war, that the Vietnam War memorial doesn’t exist. It’s solemn, it’s somber. There is too much loss to even think about. We mostly didn’t speak during that part of the tour, just ran our fingers quietly along the engravings of the seemingly endless rows of the names of men and women that America lost during that time.
To move along to a more uplifting note, the Jefferson memorial was beautiful and extremely uplifting! It was a trek to get to unlike the others that are for the most part clustered somewhat together. My Foreign Policy professor told our class that the Jefferson Memorial was designed so that the White House would have an unobstructed view of it from one of the windows so as to inspire future presidents to the great presidents of America’s past. He also joked (for the Jefferson non-enthusiasts) that if you hated Jefferson, you could just look out the window and be inspired by what not to do! Either way, it works! And it’s definitely cool that the White House has an unobstructed view of it considering it REALLY is pretty far away.
Personally, I really like Jefferson as a president, mostly because he is very quotable, and because in middle school, everyone picked their favorite presidents, and I haphazardly and arbitrarily decided mine was going to be Jefferson, so I feel like I still have to hold true! (Much like me deciding at an early age to myself that my favorite number was going to be 19 because it’s the date that my sister was born in February…Oh, the arbitrary random decisions children make for no reason!)
Anyways, because of my fondness for Jefferson, when I entered into the white, circular, open-air monument with a massive statue of Jefferson in the middle, I immediately read the Jefferson quotes that were inscribed on the wall since I ended up loving the ones at the Lincoln memorial so much!
I love this quote from Jefferson, that was on one of the monument walls facing South. Jefferson is standing in front of it so you have to walk around to the back of the monument to see.
Here it is:
“I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.” -Thomas Jefferson
As a journo, I don’t like to display my political bias, but I don’t really think this quote can really peg me as a supporter of any one political party, rather, it shows my love for progress, the Constitution, our founding fathers, and the history behind the story of this country which most if not all Americans share with me!
Here are some more pictures from the tour:
ABOVE: The Lincoln Memorial at night. Look at Honest Abe just hanging out in the middle! Imagine how huge that statue is and how minuscule compared to the rest of the monument! Perspective if I’ve ever seen it!
ABOVE: A picture I captured from the other side of the Jefferson Monument of the girls sitting on a bench while I was reading the quotes. Look how tiny they are in comparison to the rest of the monument!! It amazes me!
I hope you enjoyed the video and pictures! Now it’s time to get off to bed so that I have energy tomorrow morning!