Miles Today: 0.0
Total Miles: 359.7
Days on the Road: 10
Cost of Vietnam Memorial: 7, 000,000
Percentage donated: 100%
Names on the wall: 58,209
I Need a Hat Like That
Chalk a few more up for the 'ole National Park Service. Today we bagged five more official pamphlets -- perhaps someday they'll be worth something on ebay. Starting out at Great Falls Park , we ambled along the Potomac and watched a small team of kayakers in dry suits battling the rapids upstream, taking turns "surfing" in the waves. All that extreme sport watchin' got us pretty amped up for our vigorous day of, er, sightseeing.
Stop number one revealed the most startling and curious finding of the whole day. Well, Liz's day at least. It's an often overlooked fact about Lincoln that perhaps wouldn't have come to my attention if not for the past two years in New York. As depicted in the 19-foot statue at his self-titled Memorial, the man was not only ahead of his time on the equality and freedom fronts, but he had a keen fashion forsight. Lincoln, the man, the statue, was wearing square-toed shoes. Makes you wonder what color they were, doesn't it?
Seeing the Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt Memorials really brought to larger-than-life the significance of their place in history and the respect this country shows them. The towering monuments inspire awe and wonder about what kind of person it is who gets remembered in such a distinguished and large way. The president who acquired Louisiana, the one who fought to preserve the Union and the other who saw the country through the greatest depression of our time, I guess they'd be the ones. And then you've also got the 555-foot obelisk for Washington, but we didn't officially visit that one yet so we'll save those comments for later.
Kiosks full of war paraphernalia, military pins and bumper stickers saying "I'd fly 1000 miles to smoke a camel" (It was innocent as a cigarette ad, but this time there's a Middle-Eastern gentleman sitting on a camel, the animal kind. Oh, and there are crosshairs on him.) lined the entrance to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The wall is like a mirror on sunny days - Proof. The simplicity is striking and elegant; the above- and below-ground design pleasing to the eye and complimentary to the land. And to think the designer, May Jing Lin was a mere 21-years-old when she drew it up.
The three-year Korean War, began in 1950, often gets lost in the shadows of Vietnam, hence its epithet "the forgotten war". I must say this: its Memorial also takes a second place to the Vietnam Wall in artistic merit and draw, although it doesn't really seem right to score them that way. On the brink of our country declaring war, it's pretty depressing to scan a wall of 58,209 US casualties at Vietnam then learn the number was only about 4,000 less for the Korean war just a few years earlier. Not to mention the casualties on the other sides.
"More than an end to war, we want an end to the beginning of all wars - yes, an end to this brutal, inhuman and thoroughly impractical method of settling the differences between governments." — FDR
© 2002, 2003 Anthony Hecht and Liz Jones. All rights reserved.