Washington DC Monuments
Unsure of what to see when visiting Washington DC for the first time? Or maybe you want to revisit old favorites. Check out our top four memorials dedicated to important figures of American history. They’re a must-see for any tourist (and local, for that matter)!
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
Located at 1964 Independence Ave SW (referencing the Civil Rights Act), the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial is the first to honor an African American on the National Mall, and the fourth person to be honored that did not hold the presidency. “We will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope,” King said in his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. The inspiration for the memorial’s design came from this line, as King emerges from a block of stone. The official sculptor is Lei Yixin, who started his work in 2007.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
This second memorial attracts nearly 3 million annual visitors, and honors the fallen, women, and MIA of the Vietnam War and similar US military campaigns of Southeast Asia. The memorial consists of three separate sites: the main wall, which lists some 58,000 dead or missing soldiers; the Three Servicemen, European-, African-, and Hispanic- American bronze statues looking at the wall; and the Women’s Memorial, dedicated to female service members in the Vietnam conflict. Maya Lin’s design was chosen for the wall when she was an undergraduate at Yale University.
The Lincoln Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial honors the sixteenth president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. It sits directly across from the Washington Monument on the west side of the National Mall. Boasting nearly 6 million annual visitors, the impressive statue of Lincoln is housed in a temple of Yule marble. Inside are murals and two famous Lincoln speeches, the Second Inaugural Address, and the Gettysburg Address. The monument is open to the public 24-hours a day, and since its dedication in 1922, it has been the site of numerous famous speeches and events, most notably MLK Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
The Franklin Roosevelt Memorial is, like many DC Memorials, maintained by the National Park Service. It’s dedicated to our 32nd president, FDR. The only memorial to show a First Lady alongside the president, it consists of four rooms, one for each term of the president. His legacy is most relevant to the NPS, as Roosevelt worked to expand the role of the National Park and the National Forest systems during his presidency. The memorial also features a complex waterfall system, echoing the social, economic, and military complexities that plagued FDR’s presidency.
There are many more famous and historic Washington DC monuments to explore, but we decided to tell you about just a few of them. If you have the time, check out the surrounding museums to get a more in-depth understanding of our nation’s history in the capital! Take a look at our blog for more!