©Unless otherwise noted, all content and photos are © 2017 Monumental Thoughts.
Alfaro (1842 –1912) was the president from 1895 to 1901 and 1906 to 1911. He was known as Viejo Luchador (Old Warrior) for opposing conservatism for 30 years. Alfaro is best known for modernizing his country’s transportation and education system.
Anton Hilberath is an enigma surrounded by children.
Hilberath’s the only German soldier from World War II buried at Arlington National Cemetery. The First Sergeant of the Wehrmacht was among 830 German prisoners of war that died in the U.S.
Anything else about Hilberath requires plenty of patience and a translator. After a few dozen hours on the internet and couple conversations with older friends with military backgrounds, I pieced together some thoughts.
Hilberath died April 21, 1946 while working on Maryland’s Eastern Shore’s farms. Wait, that was a year after the war’s end. What were German prisoners still doing here? Turns out nobody was in a hurry to repatriate POWs across the Atlantic.
How did Hilberath end up at Arlington? Under the Geneva Convention, prisoners were given military funerals at the nearest government cemetery. At the time that was Arlington.
After dying of an undisclosed illness, Hilberath along with deceased Italian soldiers Arcangelo Prudenza and Mario Batista were buried in Arlington. The marker doesn’t note Hilberath’s Nov. 19, 1898 birthdate, only his death, nationality and rank.
All three lie in Section 15C not far from the Tomb of the Unknowns and one section over from the Confederate memorial and graves. Hilberath lies amid children of U.S. soldiers with no marker to the immediate left of him.
At first glance it seemed there was a little chapel in the middle of Rock Creek Cemetery. A beautiful Gothic stone building alongside many of the mausoleums of the rich and famous. And sure enough, walking up to it, I saw it was also a mausoleum with a number of vaults as seen from the glass doors that were locked.
The sign outside said Hibbs. Not much could be found aside William Hibbs was a banker born in Maryland in 1911 and living in Washington by the 1920 census before later residing in McLean, Va. when dying in 1969. He worked for American Security and Trust.
Still, it’s the coolest building in a very cool cemetery.
We’re going with an easy one here. I don’t care if you’ve never seen a pediment in your life (and you may have not) you’re going to know what this one means.
High above the western entrance into the Daughters of the American Revolution’s Constitution Hall is an eagle with 1776 on one side and 1783 on the other.
Care to take a guess what this means?
It’s the symbol of America and the dates of the Revolutionary War. It’s above the organization of women descendants (like my wife) related to those soldiers. The 90-foot pediment was finished in 1930.
Told you it was an easy A.
An old stump is all that’s left of one of the older trees ever around Washington.
The Lincoln Oak, named for president Abraham Lincoln meeting under its expansive branches with local military leaders during the Civil War, was destroyed by lightning in 1994.
The tree was believed to date back to around 1510. That’s 601 years ago! The oak was supposedly 173 years old when the nearby Old Spring House was built in 1683.
Ft. Lincoln Cemetery officials planted new white oak to replace the Lincoln Oak, but we’ll have to wait until 2610 to see if it’s worthy of its predecessor.
See you there. Well, my 20th great grandson will be there.
Amid the famous buildings of Capitol Hill sits a small brick house with two centuries of history.
The Sewall-Belmont House on the corner of Second St. and Constitution Ave. NE has been associated with our political leaders since the city’s early years. In 1929, the National Woman’s Party bought the house for feminist education that’s still ongoing.
The national headquarters, the society continues seeking equal rights for women. The house has a museum filled with exhibits and education programs. It also has tours. Check the website.
We take the Potomac River for granted as it passes often passively by Washington. But far north of the city lies Great Falls National Park where the water drops quickly and sometimes deadly.
I went there once as a young child. I remembered the river pouring over the rocks.
And that was my only memory for about 50 years until Sunday when a 70-degree day in mid-February compelled me to be outside. Why not go see it again, I thought.
Turns out lots of other folks had the same thought as the final few miles took more than 30 minutes and a remote parking lot was needed. But it was fun to see the falls that are nearly on the complete opposite side of town from where I live. The view looked much the same as I remembered.
Washingtonians a century ago used to visit the falls in the summertime to escape the heat. How they made it from the city mystifies me. It’s a good way from town.
But Washingtonians’ connection to the falls predates the city’s origins. George Washington believed a series of canals could connect the Potomac River between the East and Ohio Valley where the country’s western expansion would begin. In 1784, the Patowmack Company began five canals that were completed in 1802.
For 26 years, the canal would see great commerce over the three-day trip from Cumberland, Md to Georgetown. Railroads eventually made canals obsolete.
The falls are still a great recreational area with plenty of picnickers. People go swimming and boating along it, though the section near the visitor center has a sign stating seven people a year drown in the river so be careful.
I doubt I’ll be around in 50 years to see the place again. Maybe my grandchildren will one day want me to take them.
What could be more fitting for a cemetery than a clock that never ends?
This 1938 floral clock in the entrance area of Ft. Lincoln Cemetery just across the District’s border in Brentwood, Md. was created by famed timekeeper Seth Thomas.
The face is 32 feet in diameter with 28 feet for flowers. The numbers are 21 inches high and one foot wide. The minute hand weighs between 300 to 350 pounds and 18 feet, 4 inches long. The hour hand is 200 to 250 pounds and 14 feet, nine inches long. The hands are caste aluminum.
Plants adorn the clock in warmer months. There are 5,000 red and 2,900 green Alteranthereas, 400 Santonlinas and 500 Sedum Tomentosiums.
Fourteen soldiers and sailors from the War of 1812 are buried together in Section 1 not far from the Custis-Lee House. Go past the Pan American 103 red stone memorial and nearly enter the woods before the granite marker is on the left. The photo makes it look like the marker is crooked, but I think it was more of my being tired at the end of walking nearly five hours around the grounds.
The 14 soldiers were discovered in 1905 by workers at the Washington Navy Yard. The monument was erected in 1976 by the National Society of the United States Daughters of the War of 1812.
It looks like odd tools in my collection, and it is.
Tool De Force is a 12 1/2-foot sculpture at the National Building Museum representing some of the tools used in the industry. It was donated to NBM by John Hechinger, Sr., who many longtime Washingtonians remember for his Hechinger hardware stores that paved the way for big box successors Home Depot and Lowe’s.
Hechinger collected art for his enormous headquarters. This one is by sculptor David Stromeyer, who liked to add color to his pieces.