Sunset over the cemetery

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Brookside Gardens

Brookside Gardens
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Remembering the unknown dead of the War of 1812

So much attention is given the Tomb of the Unknowns, but there are actually more than 400 unknowns buried throughout Arlington National Cemetery.

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.

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Just around the corner . . . at Mount Vernon

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Under the spreading Lincoln oak tree

Lincoln oak tree

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 610 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.

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DAR pediment is simple enough

DAR pediment


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.

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Going tropical at Mount Vernon

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Senator Cushman Kellogg was a renaissance man

In the very back corner of Arlington National Cemetery, and I’ll give you a special merit badge for finding this memorial under a tree by the superintendent’s residence, lies one of the special politicians of the post-Civil War era.

Cushman Kellogg Davis (June 16, 1838 – Nov. 27, 1900) was Minnesota’s governor from 1874-86 before becoming U.S. Senator from 1876 to his death. The New York native grew up in the Wisconsin Territory where his father Horatio Davis was a state senator.

After graduating the University of Michigan in 1857 and admitted to the state bar in 1860, Davis served in the 28th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment as lieutenant of Company B during battles in western campaigns. Davis was promoted to Assistant Adjutant General before resigning in 1864 because of typhoid fever.

Davis became a lawyer in St. Paul, Minn. and later appointed U.S. Attorney General for Minnesota in 1868 for five years. During his state and national political career, the Republican was appointed by President William McKinley to the 1898 Paris Peace Conference to end the Spanish-American War.

Originally buried in St. Paul, he was re-interred in Arlington National Cemetery in 1901. The memorial has a bronze bust of Davis atop a granite column. A bas relief at the base depicts Davis at the Paris Peace Conference.

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A memorial in an Arlington crossroads

It’s not unusual for a monument to be moved. Happens more often than you’d expect. And it’s not unusual for a memorial to be updated with a second use. But here’s one that includes three wars and was relocated to the middle of a busy intersection.

Yes, sometimes you just have to park the car and walk to the median strip to see a monument after passing it many times. I saw this one on Wilson Blvd. in Arlington, Va. and finally stopped to see what the stone marker with cannons was all about.

According to the signs, it was originally dedicated in 1931 in tribute to 13 native sons who died in 1917-18 in World War I. One marker said it was erected by Arlington Post 139 and Auxiliary Unit 139 of the American Legion and the citizens of Arlington County. It also notes “The stone was removed from the original location adjacent to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers in Arlington National Cemetery.” A third marker lists 35 killed in Korea and 52 that died in Vietnam.

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George says wear a mask

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The cat, horse and the general

There’s lots to talk about Gen. Philip Sheridan’s statue. It’s one of the better equestrian statues in town and the horse has a story, too.

But there’s also a cat down the street keeping an eye on his old master. You won’t read this one on Wikipedia, but Sheridan’s widow managed to get her husband’s statue located down the street from her 22nd and Massachusetts Ave. And, high atop the corner home sits a cat on the ledge staring at his former master waiting for him to return. Uh, a ceramic cat. It’s pretty cool.

As for the horse, well it might be the grandest one ever. This 11-foot bronze statue by Gutzon Blorgum shows Sheridan and his horse Rienzi rallying Union troops during the Battle of Cedar Creek outside Winchester, Va. Sheridan is waving his retreating troops back into battle, his right arm clutching his cap while his left holds the reins tightly.

The pair had just ridden 20 miles as fast as they could to get to the battle and you see Rienzi’s front legs splayed out as if trying to suddenly stop. This proved to be one of the critical moments of the Civil War and “Sheridan’s Ride” by Thomas B. Read explains why there’s a statue.

Continue reading

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Cavalry Baptist survives throughout the years

I once took a church group around Penn Quarter from Cavalry Baptist that wanted to know more about their neighborhood. I wanted to learn more about Cavalry Baptist. I’ve seen the brown brick venue peek out along 8th and H Sts. N.W., but never been in it.

Turns out Cavalry Baptist has quite a history. It was designed by Adolph Cluss, a communist from Germany who knew Karl Marx. Cluss built six churches around Washington as well as the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building and Eastern Market (where your job isn’t your credit when buying produce — cash only, please.)

The church was completed in 1866 and, true to Washington tradition, cost twice the original budget. Fortunately, Amos Kendall, who was a member of president Andrew Jackson’s “Kitchen Cabinet,” stepped in and paid $90,000 of the $134,000.

The following year, the church mostly burned down when fire trucks couldn’t get through heavy snow. Bummer. All that work and money gone.

Fortunately, there was insurance and Cavalry re-opened on 1869. Things went well for nearly a half century until July 30, 1913 when a tornado – yes, a tornado – went through downtown Washington and destroyed the steeple. In 1947, lightning hit the clock during a wedding that took nearly 60 years to fix.

I toured the inside of the building and found it to be both modern and expansive. It goes on forever. And, I’ve never met a nicer group of people.

Sunday service is 11 a.m. Cavalry has Spanish and Burmese congregations, too.

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View from Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon
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Joseph Henry was no ding-dong

Joseph HenryThe statue of the man who invented the doorbell stands before a building that has none. Then again, how many castles do?

Joseph Henry was a 19th century scientist whose work in electromagnets led him to become the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Among his useful outlets for electromagnets was an early version of the electric doorbell in 1831. He also layed the work for the creation of the telegraph, established weather reports using the telegraph and designed lighthouse innovations.

The nine-foot bronze statue facing the National Mall with the Smithsonian Castle behind it was paid for by Congress and sculpted by William Wetmore Story. President Rutherford B. Hayes attended the dedication while famed composure John Phillips Sousa led the Marine band in its first playing of “The Transit of Venus March.” A relief of an electromagnet is on the side of the base.

Henry died in 1878 and is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Washington.


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Happy 4th of July

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Wordless Wednesday: Indian Head rail trail

Indian Head bike trail
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Juarez points the way

Juarez statueMy first thought was “Oh great, another person telling me which way to go.” But as I sat at a red light near the Watergate I realized here was another of the Latin American liberators.

Former Mexican President Benito Juarez stands at the intersection of Virginia Ave. and New Hampshire Ave. NW as part of the Statues of the Liberators that include Simon Bolivar and Jose Artegas closer to the Organization of American States by Constitution Ave.

The bronze statue is part of a 1969 exchange with Mexico where the U.S. sent a statue of Abraham Lincoln. The Juarez statue is a copy of the one in Mexico City. The base includes an urn with soil from Juarez’s native San Pablo Guelatao, Mexico. Juarez’s left arm points into the distance while his right arm touches a book.

Juarez was president of Mexico from 1958-72, tossing the French out of the country in 1866. He’s known as a progressive reformer who modernized the country.

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Horse and Rider trots along

It looks like me ready to fall off, but sculptor Mario Marini’s Horse and Rider is considered an example of a man in control.

Sure, if you say so.

The seven-foot tall sculpture outside the Hirshhorn Museum is another of Marini’s works that were influenced by ancient Etruscan sculptures. They’re nothing fancy, which is the point.

The Italian artist studied under Picasso and was considered a big deal in the 1950s and ‘60s before passing away in 1978. His most famous work is a horse and rider called The Angel of the City in Venice.

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Alice Roosevelt found in Peacock Alley

alice roosevelt

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Who’s the boss? Why ‘Boss’ Shepherd, of course

George Washington may be the father of our country and namesake for the our town, but Alexander Robey Shepherd, better known as “Boss Shepherd,” is considered “The Father of Modern Washington.”

Shepherd actually stopped an 1870s movement to relocate the capital to St. Louis after national politicians were upset over Washington’s poor infrastructure. Washington’s governor from 1873-74, Shepherd modernized the city’s infrastructure and even planted 60,000 trees to make it more attractive. However, these costly moves nearly put the city into bankruptcy and forced Shepherd from office amid corruption scandals. Shepherd’s plan to keep Washington as the capital city worked, though.

Boss Shepherd was such a controversial person that Mayor Marion Barry removed this statue when taking office in 1979 and exiled it to the city’s impound lot. I guess Mayor Barry figured there was only one boss in town and he was it. However, in 2005, Shepherd’s statue was returned to its original 1909 spot on the right side of the John Wilson Building entrance on Pennsylvania Ave. near 15th St.

The bronze statue is 18 feet tall, including the 18-square foot pedestal made of Vermont granite. It could use a good cleaning, turning green like many statues. It was created by Washington sculptor Ulric Stonewall Jackson Dunbar, who was better known for his statue of baseball pitcher Walter Johnson and death masks.

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