A Stroll Through the National Mall

Travel, especially to places I’ve been to before, takes on a different dimension when I know it can be fodder for a new post. Like my recent trip to Washington, DC, a place I lived for ten years. The last time I was there, it was for the usual round of family visits and I didn’t have time to venture off by myself and revisit old haunts to see them with different, travel blogger, eyes.

Before I got to Washington, I knew I had to see the MLK Memorial so the friend I was scheduled to meet decided to tag along as she hadn’t seen it yet.

I hadn’t been on the Mall since the Inauguration of President Obama in 2009 and before that for the Cherry Blossom Festival a year or so earlier. On both occasions, we stayed in a localized area. This time was different. It was a pleasant day and we decided to get off the subway at Gallery Place and walk.

The National Mall is to Washington, DC what Central Park is to New York City, what the Champs Elysees is to Paris. It is like the nation’s living room, or maybe the kitchen, the place everyone gathers for events large and small.

We strolled leisurely towards the general area of the Tidal Basin and bumped into a few unexpected treats along the way, like the Sculpture Garden.

Sculpture, National Mall

Sculpture for the Smithsonian Sculpture Garden

Sculpture Garden sculpturesNot much further on, we came upon the National Book Festival, which has been held annually on the Mall for the past eleven years. Being a booklover, it was tempting not to stop and listen to some of the authors and wander through the tents. I settled for a copy of the program, instead.

Each time I see the National World War II Memorial, I’m just blown over by the sheer beauty and expanse of it. Memorials reflect an artist’s vision of how to best capture and express visually our emotions surrounding an event. The World War II memorial, I think, does that effectively.

National World War II Memorial
National World War II Memorial
National World War II Memorial, looking towards the Monument
Looking towards the Monument

The Korean War Memorial always hits me in the gut, maybe because it duplicates what the battlefield must have looked like. Dressed in their military garb, the soldiers are caught in mid-step, guns at the ready. Except for the sounds, it’s not difficult to imagine what this war must have been like.

Korean War Memorial
Korean War Memorial
Korean War Memorial
Korean War Memorial

As much as I enjoy being on the Mall, seeing these memorials always wipe me out because there’s usually so many emotions to process. But I wish now I had pushed through my hunger and emotional fatigue and gone over to the Viet Nam War Memorial. It would have been interesting to see the contrasts. Next time.

4 comments on “A Stroll Through the National Mall

  1. That Korean War Memorial is quite moving. When you think about soldiers losing their lives and to have those sculptures there, at eye level, must be an emotional experience. The World War Memorial is nice as well. What’s most interesting is learning what the artist was thinking in developing the concepts. That always makes the experience more thought-provoking.

  2. Memorial parks usually ignite emotions. I would also feel the same way especially with the Korean War Memorial. Thanks for sharing this Marcia.

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