Unless otherwise noted, all content and photos are © 2018 Monumental Thoughts.
Truly, this is one of the hidden gems of Washington.
An Abraham Lincoln sculpture by renowned Lincoln scholar Andrew O’Connor sits in the middle of Fort Lincoln Cemetery about 100 yards from the District line. The 13-foot enduring bronze statue shows Lincoln in the final days of the Civil War in deep thought, as thin and weary as the 16th president would become. The stress of the war is clearly upon him.
So what’s it doing in a cemetery instead of somewhere more prominent?
The piece was commissioned in 1930 by the Rhode Island Lincoln Memorial Commission for its state house. Cast at Gorham Manufacturing, it remained there for 17 years because the Rhode Island commission didn’t have the money to pay for the statue. Finally, Fort Lincoln Cemetery bought it in 1947.
The statue is in the area Lincoln met with Union troops during the war. It was Fort Lincoln then, the cannons still high above in earthworks where the president sat under a massive centuries-old oak and drank from the adjacent spring house that’s still there. The fort was founded in 1861 to defend Washington and named for the president. It later became a cemetery.
Personally, I always used the statue as a marker to turn near where my father is buried. Who knew it was such a prestigious piece? After all, O’Connor created several well-known Lincoln statues nationwide, including one in front of the Illinois state house. This one is considered among the best by O’Connor, who studied under Daniel Chester French, creator of the Lincoln statue at the Lincoln Memorial.
I’ve walked by this monument often over the past 30 years because my wife works nearby. And I knew what it was and even seen it in the spring with the red flowers filling the dirt area in the photo above.
But I was watching actor Lee Marvin in “The Big Red One” movie the other night and suddenly it all clicked. Oh yeah, the 1980 movie is named after the unit that has the marker by the White House.
Hey, my mom says I’m not slow, I’m special. Anyway, funny how things click.
The First Division Monument was created by Daniel Chester French, who sculpted Lincoln’s statue in the Lincoln Memorial. It honors soldiers of the First Division who died during World War I. The 80-foot pink marble column was carved from a Massachusetts quarry and is one of the longest pieces ever mined in the U.S.
Atop the column is a 15-foot bronze Victory with wings whose left hand blesses those who died. At the bottom are the names of those from the First Division who died in World War I and then later in World War II.
The monument was dedicated in 1924 by President Calvin Coolidge.
It’s not just the statue that catches my eye, but the background. At the proper angle, they combine for a commanding presence.
Martin Luther and the Luther Place Memorial Church in the background at Thomas Circle are a perfect partnership of what the statue means. The Lutheran religion comes from Luther, a 16th century friar who felt stricter adherence to the scriptures was needed. The Catholic church excommunicated him, but the Diet of Worms trial saw his fellow Germans refuse to condemn him.
Luther spent one year translating the New Testament and a decade reproducing the entire Bible in German when it was previously available only in Greek and Latin. He led the German Reformation movement.
The bronze statue was erected in 1884; a copy of one in Worms, Germany that was later badly damaged during World War II. The 11 ½-foot statue shows Luther looking to the heavens while holding the Bible.
Puck, that annoying fairy of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, is a four-foot statue outside the Folger Shakespeare Library. He looks in mock horror at a fountain, but something tells me the little jerk is up to trouble.
Puck was known in Greek mythology as a prankster and treated not much better by The Bard in British literature. On the pedestal is the immortal line, “Lord, what fooles this mortals be.”
Whatever you little troublemaker.
Juana Ines de la Cruz (1651-1695) was considered the poet of New Spain in the late 17th century when women were forbidden to read or write in her hometown just outside Mexico City.
Sister Juana was renowned for her theological knowledge. However, the Counter Reformation was growing and condemned her writings that made her “The Tenth Muse” in Spain. The move indeed silenced Sister Juana in 1993 rather than risk trial for heresy by the Spanish Inquisition.
The bronze statue atop a cement base is part of the Organization of American States grounds along Constitution Ave. and 17th St. N.W. It’s a version of one in Madrid, Spain.
(Reprinted from Jan. 14, 2011)
I have a family member buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
I never knew him. Never knew of him until researching my family tree.
But, Fallas Broche, my maternal grandfather’s brother, is among the 330,000 buried in Arlington. About as far back as possible, a few rows from the stone wall bordering Fort Myer. It was a very long walk on a hot summer day, but I found him.
Fallas wasn’t a war hero. In fact, he was in his fourth week of boot camp when World War I ended. Two weeks later, Fallas was mustered out. Guess they didn’t need him so Fallas’ military career was a grand six weeks as part of the 24th artillery CAC, Battery D as a private. And no, it wasn’t a dishonorable discharge because I checked and he wouldn’t have been buried in Arlington.
The rules were certainly less restrictive when Fallas died in 1946 at age 50. Today he wouldn’t be interned there. But, it’s always an honor to know that one of my family rests with so many brave men and women.
(Reprinted from my former blog – TheRickSniderReport.com on Jan. 9, 2011)
The new Wilson Bridge was the best billion dollars ever spent in my opinion. I smile every time I drive over it with no backup at all during rush hour. It’s just a joy after a generation of hour-long backups.
But I did it last year when the weather was cool, perfect for a three-mile walk. My high school buddy Anthony Lee came with me.
Here’s the key for anyone who wants to trim a long walk – start on the Alexandria side. You’ll hear everyone talk about National Harbor on the Maryland side, but it’s a long, long ways from the bridge and you have to pay a king’s ransom to park.
(Click to keep going because lots of photos ahead)
OK, it took me six months to see the new Wharf in Southwest, but what a fine place it has become under the new development.
The Anthem serves as the anchor of the waterfront project. It’s a nightclub of touring bands that aren’t popular enough to fill Capital One Arena. The rest is a collection of bars, restaurants and pricey shops plus the old Captain White’s outdoor seafood . Thankfully, there’s ample parking.
You can stroll the boardwalk area, even walk out onto the pier where there are benches. Maybe catch a boat ride. It’s damn civilized.
We ate lunch at Kirwin’s, an Irish pub. It is a gem. The steak and eggs was excellent, the Killian’s cold and the service fast and excellent. The price was even reasonable. It’s nice to find such a combination. I’ll eat there again.
The Wharf represents the many great changes around town in recent years. I always say my Washington is very different than my grandparents and it will be very different for my grandchildren. The Wharf is among the reasons it will be better.
It would seem a strange sight at first. Men of science in the Museum of the Bible. But, the displays show the two are not incompatible.
Galileo is shown with his telescope. The 17th-century scientist is known for saying the sun was the center of the universe at a time when people believed Earth was the center. When church leaders challenged Galileo, he said the Bible tells “how to go to Heaven, not how the heavens go.”
Sir Isaac Newton is known for his theories of gravity prompted by an apple hitting him in the head. The 18th-century physicist believed to know nature is the know God and that God provides order to the universe.
George Washington Carver was born into slavery in 1860, but grew to one of the 20th century’s leading botanists and inventors. He created more than 500 agricultural inventions and 300 uses for peanuts. Carver referred to his laboratory as “God’s little workshop.”