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National Mall and Memorial Parks

The National Mall and Memorial Parks is a park area in Washington, DC administered by the National Park Service and includes some of the most iconic sites in city, if not the nation.

Monuments and Memorials:

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial:

The FDR Memorial is on a 7.5-acre site in West Potomac Park, between the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial.  The memorial is divided into four outdoor "rooms", representing Roosevelt's four presidential terms.  Throughout the memorial are 21 famous quotes from Roosevelt, numerous statues and murals representing issues from his presidency, and four man-made waterfalls.  The entire memorial is made from red South Dakota granite, and the was designed to be wheelchair-accessible, in honor of Roosevelt's disability.

In 1955, Congress formed a commission to oversee the construction of a memorial in honor of Roosevelt.  Before his death, he told his friend Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter that if a monument were built in his honor, it should be no larger than his desk and located near the National Archives.  Congress obliged his request and there is a plaque dedicated to Roosevelt in front of the National Archives.  However, the commission decided that a plaque was not sufficient to honor Roosevelt's presidency, so the the memorial was built in West Potomac Park.  The monument was dedicated in 1997 by President Clinton.

New Deal Pillars and Mural in FDR Memorial

Korean War Memorial:

The Korean War Memorial is on a 2.2-acre site with the Pool of Remembrance at the west end.  The Pool is in honor of the more than 54,000 Americans who died during the war.  Opposite the pool, 19 soldiers are coming out of the trees and walking towards the Pool.  These statues were sculpted by Frank Gaylord.  Running along the south side of the memorial is a 164-foot mural made of polished black granite.  The mural is etched with 2,500 images of support staff who helped the soldiers.  Along the north side of the memorial is the UN Wall, which commemorates the countries involved in South Korea's independence.

In 1988, President Reagan appointed a board for a Korean War Memorial, choosing a site south across the Reflecting Pool from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.  The monument was designed by associates from Cooper-Lecky Architects.  Groundbreaking on the memorial was performed by President Bush in 1992 and the monument was dedicated in 1995, the 42nd anniversary of the armistice that ended the war, by President Clinton and South Korean President Kim Young Sam.

Korean War Memorial

Lincoln Memorial:

The Lincoln Memorial is a 99-foot tall building, designed by Henry Bacon to look like a Greek temple on account of Lincoln's godlike status to many Americans.  Inside the building is a 19-foot tall statue of Lincoln designed by Daniel Chester French.  Around the building are 36 Doric columns representing the 36 states at the time of his assassination.  When construction finished, there were 48 states and so the names of all the states are carved around the top with plaques for Alaska and Hawaii added later.  The southern wall inside the monument is inscribed with the Gettysburg Address and the northern wall is inscribed with his Second Inaugural Address.

Two years after Lincoln's assassination in 1865, Congress decided to build a monument, but not until 1901 was a site chosen.  In 1911, President Taft signed the bill to provide funding and construction was completed in 1922 with the memorial dedicated shortly thereafter.

Lincoln Memorial

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial:

The memorial consists of three white granite pieces.  King is carved into one, the "Stone of Hope", which stands beyond the other two, making up the "Mountain of Despair".  Visitors to the memorial pass through the "Mountain of Despair", signifying the struggles of King's life.  There is also a 450-foot inscription wall containing many quotes from King.  This memorial is the newest addition, having been dedicated by President Obama in 2011.

MLK Memorial

Vietnam Veterans Memorial:

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall is made of two 246 feet walls of polished black granite.  The walls are etched with the names of the more than 58,000 dead and missing.  The wall slopes down towards the middle, giving visitors the feeling of walking into a grave.  The two walls are at an angle to one another, with one pointing to the Washington Monument and the other pointing to the Lincoln Memorial.  In addition to the wall, a sculpture of Three Servicemen was added in 1984 and another sculpture, the Women's Memorial was added later.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was authorized by legislation signed by President Carter in 1980 and opened the design up to competition.  Due to the controversial nature of the war, four criteria for entries were established: reflective and contemplative; harmonious with the surroundings; display the names of the dead and missing; and no politics.  Maya Yin, a student at Yale, won the competition with a class project and the wall was dedicated in 1982.

Three Servicemen Statue

Washington Monument:

The Washington Monument is perhaps the most iconic monument in Washington, DC.  The Egyptian obelisk monument is 555' 5 1/8" tall with 896 steps (and an elevator) to the top.  There are 50 US flags surrounding it, representing the 50 states.  The obelisk is made of white marble blocks and weighs more than 80,000 tons.  The monument is the tallest structure in Washington DC, the tallest stone structure in the world, the tallest obelisk in the world, and was the tallest structure in the world until the Eiffel Tower was built in 1889.  Unfortunately, due to the Virginia earthquake of 2011, the monument is currently closed to visitors.

In 1833, the 100th anniversary of George Washington's birthday, the idea of a monument was first proposed.  In 1848, Robert Mills' designed was chosen and construction proceeded until 1856, during the national upheaval leading to the Civil War.  Work resumed in 1876 and the monument was dedicated in 1885.  The color of the marble changes at about 150 feet, where construction was paused for the Civil War.  The monument opened to the public in 1888, 40 years after the cornerstone was laid.

Washington Monument

World War II Memorial:

The World War II Memorial is a relatively new addition to the National Mall and Memorial Parks.  The memorial was commissioned by President Clinton in 1993 and approval was expedited so that veterans of the war could see the memorial while they were still alive.  Designed by Friedrich St. Florian, construction of the memorial began in 2001 and it was dedicated by President Bush in 2004.

The memorial is split into two sides - Atlantic and Pacific, representing the two theaters of the war.  There are 56 granite pillars around the the memorial, representing the 48 states of 1945 and 8 territories.  The Freedom Wall on the east side of the memorial is covered with 4,084 gold stars, each representing 100 Americans who died during the war.  There is also two inconspicuous engravings of "Kilroy was here", the symbol of which was significant to soldiers during the war.

World War II Memorial

External Links:

National Park Service website: http://www.nps.gov/nama/index.htm

Trust for the National Mall website: http://www.nationalmall.org/

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund website: http://www.vvmf.org/memorial

National Park Service Lincoln Memorial Interactive website: http://www.nps.gov/featurecontent/ncr/linc/interactive/deploy/index.htm#/introduction