“The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government.”
South of the White House, on land that was reclaimed from the Potomac River in the late 19th century, stands the memorial to Thomas Jefferson. It doesn’t have good parking and it can be tricky to walk to on foot, but the Jefferson Memorial remains one of the most popular monuments in D.C.
“Peace won by compromise is usually a short lived achievement.”
Scott Circle sits at the intersection of 16th St. NW, Massachusetts Ave., and Rhode Island Ave. To the east is the Samuel Hahnemann monument and to the west is Daniel Webster’s monument. Thousands pass by it daily, though few know of the contributions of General Winfield Scott (or his legacy), whose equestrian statue stands in its center.
South and east of the Lincoln Memorial, next to Daniel French Dr. and Independence Ave., is one of the most well-known war memorials in Washington, D.C. Few memorials are imbued with as much humanity as the Korean War Veterans Memorial. Nineteen stainless steel soldiers march in formation in a triangular park. To their south is a wall of black granite with photographic images sandblasted onto its surface. At the eastern end of the park is the Pool of Remembrance. On the northern edge is the United Nations Wall, listing the 22 UN member nations that sent soldiers to Korea.
Less than 1,000 feet south of the Lincoln Memorial at the southern terminus of 23rd St is a forgotten monument honoring the memory of the inventor of the USS Monitor, America’s first ironclad warship. Sitting on a tear-drop-shaped traffic island, John Ericsson’s memorial is cut off from pedestrians and tourists by traffic coming into and out of Arlington.
“We have built no temple but the Capitol. We consult no common oracle but the Constitution.”
On a grassy hilltop on the grounds of the National Arboretum stand 22 stately Corinthian columns. They originally stood at the East Portico – the covered entrance – to the Capitol building, where they witnessed the inauguration of 27 Presidents. Reminiscent of the ruins of ancient Persepolis or a forgotten Roman temple, they are an elegant reminder of the history of Washington, D.C., and the changes that have shaped the city.
“Among individuals, as among nations, respect for the rights of others is peace.”
Standing in front of the Watergate Hotel and the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia is the statue of one of the most prominent leaders in Mexican history – Benito Juárez. Facing north, with a stand of trees behind it, the visage of the statue is often shaded and overlooked. Add to that its distance from the National Mall and it’s easy to understand why few know of its existence.
Dedicated in 1969 in a ceremony attended by U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Mexican Foreign Minister Antonio Carrillo Flores, the statue was a gift from Mexico in exchange for a statue of Abraham Lincoln that the U.S. had given to the Mexican government in 1966.
“This Memorial is less for Abraham Lincoln than those of us today, and for those who follow after.”
The Lincoln Memorial is the most visited monument in Washington, D.C. According to the National Park Service statistics, nearly 8 million people visited the memorial in 2015. The site is open to the public all day, every day, and it is rare to see it without any visitors. Thousands of drivers pass it every day coming to or from Arlington or West Potomac Park.
Plans for the construction of a monument to Lincoln began less than three years after his death. Clark Mills – the sculptor of the Andrew Jackson statue in Lafayette Park and George Washington’s at Washington Circle – was chosen for the task. His design called for a monument 70 feet high with 36 bronze sculptures, including six equestrian statues. At the top would have been Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation. The monument, which would have stood next to the Capitol, was never made due to a lack of funds.