Wandering through Rock Creek Cemetery is a lesson is historic architecture. It’s probably the best cemetery in Washington for angels alone. The rich and famous from former Washington territorial mayor “Boss” Shepherd to president Teddy Roosevelt’s iconic daughter Alice are buried in this northwest cemetery that is not actually in Rock Creek Park, but along the road to it.
Researching this unusual marker above shared by sisters Dorothy Moran Worthington and Kathleen Lewis Martin found nothing on the latter. But, Worthington is a relative newcomer to the three-centuries-old cemetery after dying in 2011. The Mississippi native worked in New York where she was the executive secretary to NBC president Brandon Tartikoff before moving to Georgetown in 1990 to be near Martin. The opera and theater lover often signed off on the phone by telling callers, “Hello! I must be going!” made famous by Groucho Marx.
It’s a Tweetup, a flash mob to remember Lincoln.
Saturday morning saw a trickle grow to 20 people as a man with yellow tulips in one hand and a retriever’s leash in the other placed flowers on the stoop of Petersen House precisely at 7:22 a.m. to remember the 152nd anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s death.
Each year, a small group gathers at the old boardinghouse across the street from Ford’s Theatre where the final shot of the Civil War killed the president. A re-enactor announces Lincoln’s death. A moment of silence and reading of Walt Whitman’s “O Captain! My Captain!” follows.
And then the group disperses into the early morning for another year.
The first thing tourists look for at the World War II Memorial isn’t the magnificent fountain, the stars that each represent 100 dead U.S. soldiers, bas relief art by the entrance or names of the battles.
No, they want to take a photo by their state columns.
Fair enough. But then they try to figure out where it is, thinking it’s by region. Sorry, doesn’t quite work that way, but there is a method of the madness.
Military ceremonies always have the lead officer’s next in command to the right and their No. 2 to the left. With your back to the wall of stars, the first state in the country is Delaware on the right, the second state is Pennsylvania to the left. It then alternates – No. 3 on right, No. 4 on left and so on.
Most people don’t know what number their state was when entering the union, but they have a general idea so early states are on the stars side, later states and territories by 17th St. There are 48 states and eight territories at the time of World War II represented. Hawaii and Alaska have since become states, but the number is still the same.
A walk along Embassy Row found a new statue since my last stroll. is in front of the Republic of Turkey embassy’s official residence. “The Father of Turks” was a World War I military officer who later served as Turkey’s first president in 1920-21.
Washington donated space for the statue in 2013. The capital of Turkey, Ankara,, and Washington became sister cities in October 2011. The statue was dedicated on the 90th anniversary of the founding of Turkey. Its sculptor was Jeffery L. Hall.
In appreciation of U.S. aid to Armenian earthquake victims, sculptor Friedrich Sogoyan created an oversized mother hugging her child based upon a woman who survived several days in the rubble with her child.
The Dec. 7, 1988 earthquake killed more than 30,000 and injured more than 200,000.
A native Armenian who was a famous sculptor of Russian monuments, Sogoyan created the bronze statue and donated it to the American Red Cross building on 17th St. N.W. in 1990. It’s to the right of the main entrance.
Air Force Memorial
It lies between Arlington National Cemetery, Navy Annex and the Pentagon, but the Air Force Memorial can be seen many places around town. Indeed, you can also see much of Washington from the memorial.
Built in 2006 to remember the 53,000 that died serving in the Air Force and its 1909-1947 predecessors serving under the U.S. Army, the memorial has three spires rising 201, 231 and 270 feet respectively. They are the contrails of the Thunderbirds during bomb blast maneuver. Stainless steel covers the 600 ton concrete spires created by Zenos Frudakis. Below the spires is the Air Force star that is its symbol since World War II. Nearby is a U.S. Air Force Honor Guard.
Friday morning was the last frigid one until next fall and the cherry blossoms have survived. Big bloom should be late Saturday or Sunday. It won’t be the usual eye-popping show with reportedly 50 percent of blooms ruined by recent frost, but it’s still worth walking around the Tidal Basin or other parts of town. And with 75 degrees on Saturday, it will just be nice getting outside without a jacket.
Kilroy was here
He was the best known image of the American GI during World War II even if everybody claimed his name.
“Kilroy was here” was a popular phrase accompanied by a drawing of a bald man looking over a wall that GIs scribbled as they advanced through Europe. Hitler thought Kilroy was some super spy or a code name. Stalin asked about him, too. Sorry guys, it was a prank.
Kilroy was so popular during World War II that it’s on the outside of the World War II Memorial behind the wall of stars. Look to the left of Delaware and right of Pennsylvania on the outer wall. My photo has a shadow diagonally across and isn’t original art.
The real Kilroy was believed to be James J. Kilroy, a rivets inspector at the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy, Mass. Riveters were paid by the number of rivets each day and would place check marks when finishing each day so Kilroy and other inspectors could count them. But, some riveters started erasing the chalk line and putting a new one several rivets back so they could steal the money from the previous worker. Kilroy would leave his mark by the chalk marks to prevent the next riveter from changing it. Thus, “Kilroy was here” stopped cheats and started a legend. That the rivets were inside ship bulkheads made it seem mysterious whenever opened.
Servicemen liked seeing Kilroy’s name as some sort of protective talisman. Soon, they started marking enemy areas to show successors where the first troops were. It became a badge of honor to do so.
Kilroy markings are reportedly on the Statue of Liberty, Arch de Triomphe, atop Mt. Everest and even on the dust of the moon.
In the row of bronze busts outside the Organization of American States along Constitution Ave. is Eloy Alfaro, the former president of Ecuador whose full name was José Eloy Alfaro Delgado.
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.