Daughters of the American Revolution

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A winter’s peek at Sir John Dill

Sir John Dill

Why would anyone walk Arlington National Cemetery in January? It’s the best time for photos.

This photo above of Sir John Dill would be impossible when leaves are on the trees. By looking for the statue from a non-traditional angle, you get memorable photos.

I noticed sitting by the grave of Robert Todd Lincoln (Abe’s son) that I could see the eternal flame of John F. Kennedy’s. I never noticed that before. Didn’t think they were close enough.

So on a fair winter’s day, get some exercise and fresh air and walk Arlington National Cemetery. You’ll get some great photos.

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Remembering a terrorist act on Embassy Row

The first impression is it’s some sort of fire plug. Instead, it remembers a terrorist act along Embassy Row.

Chilean exile Orlando Letelier and co-worker Ronni Moffitt were killed by a car bomb on Sept. 21, 1976 where the monument now lies along Sheridan Circle on Massachusetts Ave. Ronni’s husband Michael Moffitt suffered only minor injuries because he was in the back seat.

A car bomb on Embassy Row? Hard to imagine.

Letelier, 44, was a high-ranking official under Chilean president Salvadoe Allende, whose three-year government was overthrown in a coup by Gen. Augusto Pinochet. Allende was killed during the takeover.

Letelier spent one year in a concentration camp before exiled from Chile. He came to Washington to work for the Institute for Policy Studies, a think tank that allowed Letelier to travel worldwide lobbying for sanctions against Pinochet’s government.

Moffitt, 25, was a fundraiser at the Institute for Pubilc Policies. The Maryland graduate earlier worked as a teacher for underprivileged children.

Pinochet tired of Letelier’s efforts and reportedly ordered the assassination. Moffit was unfortunately next to Letelier. Michael Townly was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for his part of the murders. He was released after five years and entered the U.S. witness protection program after testifying against two Cuban accomplices who received life sentences. Pinochet was implicated, but never indicted for the murders.

Today under a shade tree is the small monument with images of Letelier and Moffitt along with “Justice * Peace * Dignity.”

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The Awakening now entertains tourists

For 36 years, a 70-foot statue has been trying to get up in the morning. Guess I’m not so slow after all.

The Awakening is a 70-foot statue of a man trying to get up from the earth. There are five aluminum pieces in the ground with the left hand, right foot, bent left leg and knee, right arm and hand and his head showing.

It was created by J. Seward Johnson, Jr. in 1980 at the southern end of Hains Point in Washington, D.C. across the Potomac River from National Airport. Johnson sold it to National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md. in 2007 for $750,000.

It’s closer together than the Hains Point version. Steps from the water, it’s a popular stop for tourists to climb on him. There’s also the nation’s only Peeps store just steps away. Check out the chocolate-covered peeps.

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Stephen DeCatur House remains special

Stephen DeCatur must have been one cool cat, if not an unlucky one.

After fighting in the War of 1812 and later facing pirates off the Barbary Coast, DeCatur used the “prize money” from Congress to build this three-story brick house within sight of the White House in Lafayette Park at the corner of Jackson Place and H St. N.W.

Too bad he only lived in it only 14 months before – bam – dying in a duel. Seems Commodore James Baron objected to DeCatur court martialing him and shot him in a one-on-one satisfaction of honor.

DeCatur’s wife moved out immediately. It has since been the home of one vice president, three secretaries of state, five congressmen, a British prime minister and the French and Russian delegations. Nowadays it’s a naval museum open to the public.

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What’s the most photographed statue in town?

Nobody really knows, but if it’s not Abraham Lincoln at his memorial than it’s surely Andrew Jackson here in Lafayette Park.

Why? First, it’s a great statue. Second, it’s right by the White House. Third, it’s a dynamite shot, especially at night with the White House as the backdrop.

Our seventh president, Jackson is shown aboard his horse wearing the uniform as a major general of his Tennessee militia while reviewing his troops shortly before beating the British in the Battle of New Orleans in the last battle of the War of 1812. “Old Hickory’s” fiery temper is shown by his horse’s front two hooves raised, but Jackson has a snug grip on the reins while tipping his cap to the troops.

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By George, it’s the Washington Monument

Washington Monument

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What’s on the radio?

During the dark days of the Great Depression and World War II, Americans huddled around their radios hoping for the latest news and a little inspiration.

The fireside chats by Franklin Delano Roosevelt were staples of listening from 1933-45. The series of 30 talks dealt with economic recovery and war over 15 to 45 minutes. Roosevelt spoke in a simple style so everyone could understand him. Indeed, 80 percent of the most commonly 1,000 words were used in his speeches.

TV eventually replaced the radio as the dominant medium, but every president since FDR has continued regular radio broadcasts. Indeed, it has been a weekly staple by recent presidents, including President Obama.

This sculpture of a farmer listening intently to the radio is in the FDR Memorial not far from the breadline.

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5 mistakes Washington tourists make

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5 overlooked Washington gems

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5 must sees for Washington visitors

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Happy Easter

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My Lincoln assassination tour snippets

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Small places I love in town – Lincoln portraits

Lincoln family portrait

My favorite places aren’t the biggest attractions, but the smaller venues.The personal connections. It’s what makes travel fun.

Maybe that’s why I like covering teams just as much on non-game days as the games themselves as a local sports writer for the past 40 years. (I now work for the Washington Post Express and 106.7 The Fan as a columnist.) Behind-the-scene stories interest me more.

So this year I’m going to write about smaller venues when possible. Anyone can talk about the Lincoln Memorial. I do it all the time. But these two portraits hang in the lobby of the Willard Hotel just past the clerks on the left. It’s a small section of the lobby where you can study them in peace.

The portrait above is of Abe Lincoln and sons Willie (far right) and Tad. The lower photo is Mary Lincoln and their son Robert Todd Lincoln. The Lincolns also had a fourth son, Edward Baker Lincoln, who died in 1951 at age three of tuberculosis.

Mary and Robert Todd Lincoln

It many ways, the Lincolns are a sad story. Abe may have been our greatest president in holding the union together during the Civil War, but the price was his own life at the hands of assassin John Wilkes Booth, who oddly is a distant cousin of mine.

Willie and Tad both contracted typhoid fever in 1862 during the family’s second year in the White House. Some say it was caused by the bad water conditions around the White House. Willie didn’t recover and died at age 13. It’s said Willie’s death was the greatest heartbreak of his father’s life. Tad would die at age 18 while traveling with his mother overseas for two years. All three boys are now buried alongside their parents in Springfield, Ill.

Robert Todd Lincoln as Lincoln Memorial dedication

Robert Todd Lincoln was the only son that lived into adulthood. Indeed, he died in 1926 at age 82 after attending the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial four years earlier (shown left.) He was Secretary of War from 1881-85 and served as envoy to the United Kingdom. Robert is buried at Arlington National Cemetery after living in Washington much of his life.

Mary Lincoln died in 1882 at age 64. A life of heartache for sure, but we at least see the Lincolns shown in good times.

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Firefighter monument suddenly No. 2

I’ve determined Washington Post columnist John Kelly secretly wishes he was a Washington tour guide. If not, he’d sure make a fine one. (Must be career wanderlust. As a Washington Post Express sports columnist, I always wanted to be a U.S. Park ranger but instead became a licensed Washington tour guide.)

Kelly reports in ‘First’ D.C. firefighter to die on the job wasn’t the Benjamin Greenup Monument in Glenwood Cemetery long thought to honor the first fallen Washington firefighter indeed doesn’t. Instead, Kelly writes John A. Anderson died two months earlier in 1856. Mostly, it comes down to Greenup came from a wealthier part of town and his colleagues were better able to honor him so over time people assumed Greenup died first.

Hey, it’s not the first time the rich wrote history.

This monument gets some notoriety for its depiction of Greenup’s death. In a three-foot relief panel, Greenup is shown being crushed under the horse-drawn fire engine of Columbia Engine Co. No. 1. Seems Greenup fell under the engine while rushing to the fire and was killed instantly. Amazingly, this very pumper is still in storage for future display.

Firemen were in a hurry not just to save buildings, but to collect a bonus from insurance companies back then. Fights would even erupt between companies over who would fight the fire so Greenup and company were in a big hurry that day.

Fire recruits ride by Greenup’s monument in Glenwood regularly in tribute. Oddly, I wonder if they’ll now need to say he was the second one killed. Anderson is now buried in an unmarked grace in Oak Hill Cemetery near Georgetown.

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The Occidental

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Who’s a good boy? Fala!

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Waiting at FDR Memorial

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Fala says hi

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FDR pathway

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