Washinton D.C. – An Illustrious Capital

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Every Year, November 11 is observed as ‘Veterans Day’ here in the US. I thought this would be an apt day to share my traveling experience in Washington DC, visiting some of the national monuments and land marks that are so historically and politically relevant to this place.  As you all know, Washington DC is the Capital of the United States of America.  It has been structured in a most beautiful and authentic manner with picturesque scenery and waterways all around. 


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There are many attractive and interesting places to visit here:


The US Capitol


The first and foremost, United States Capitol, is one of the most symbolic building in the nation. It has housed the meeting chambers of the House of Representatives and the Senate for two centuries. The Capitol, which was started in 1793, has been through many construction phases. It stands today as a monument to the American people and their government.


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U.S. Capitol


The cornerstone for this structure was laid by the then President, George Washington on September 18, 1793 with the architectural plan drawn out by Dr. William Thornton.  On August 24, 1814, British troops set fire to the building during the War of 1812.  As time passed, the Capitol could no longer accommodate the increasing number of senators and representatives so there was tremendous expansion in the coming years.


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The 20th century has seen even further changes for the Capitol under the direction of J. George Stewart (the appointed Architect of the Capitol). The East front extension added 102 more rooms from 1959 to 1960.  The stonework was also changed from sandstone to Georgia marble during the process.  Since then, primary emphasis has been on strengthening, renovating and preserving the building.


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Today, the Capitol covers a ground area of 175,170 square feet and has a floor area of about 16.5 acres. In addition to its use by Congress, the Capitol is a museum of American art and history. It acts as a center point for the government’s legislative branch and as a centerpiece of Capitol Hill and the National Mall.


The Washington Monument


The Washington Monument is the most eminent, as well as one of the older attractions in Washington, D.C.  It was built in honor of George Washington, who led the country to independence and then became its first President. The Monument is shaped like an Egyptian obelisk, 555′ 5/8? high, and averages 30 to 40 miles visibility in clear weather.


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Washington Monument – A view from Lincoln Memorial


It was designed by Robert Mills (b. Charleston, S.C., Aug. 12, 1781, d. Mar. 3, 1855) in 1838, to follow the form of an Egyptian obelisk, it rises more than 168 m (550 ft) above the city and is the largest masonry structure in the world. It was finished on December 6, 1884. It is very delightful to walk along the reflecting pool surrounded by beautiful scenery.


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The White House


Since it was a weekend when we visited, the place was crowded and it was hard to get a parking space anywhere close to this place, we took a Metro to have a glimpse of The White House. It is located at the Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C.


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The White House – Front view


The White House is the official home and workplace of the President of the United States of America. The house is built of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the late Georgian style. The term "White House" is used as a metonym for a U.S. president’s administration. The property is owned by the National Park Service and is part of "President’s Park."


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The White House – Rear View


Jefferson’s Memorial


Walking few miles, we headed towards the Jefferson’s Memorial which was very attractive with the white circular dome structured marble monument. 


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Jefferson’s Memorial


It  is one of the cities most picturesque landmarks. Dedicated in 1943, on the 200th anniversary of Jefferson’s birth, this monument is in keeping with a style much favored by the third U.S. president, architect, scholar and political thinker.  At its center, a towering 19-foot bronze portrait statue stands on a 6-foot pedestal. The view from the steps is superb.


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Today, most of these impressive words adorn the interior walls of his memorial. The Thomas Jefferson Memorial stands as a symbol of liberty and endures as a site for  inspiration for all citizens of the United States and the world.


Lincoln Memorial


This memorial was introduced to build a memorial to Lincoln and depicts the symbol of Freedom by the United States Congress in March 1867.


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Lincoln Memorial


The building is in the form of a Greek Doric temple and contains a large seated sculpture of Lincoln and inscriptions of two well-known speeches by Lincoln.


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The focus of the memorial is Daniel Chester French’s sculpture of Lincoln, seated. Looking at the monument it seems as if the President is gazing towards the Reflecting Pool at the capital’s Washington Monument.


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Roosevelt Memorial


Located on the way to the Jefferson’s Memorial, The Roosevelt Memorial includes four open air rooms made of rough granite blocks.


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Sculpture of President Roosevelt


The four rooms symbolize the four terms that President Roosevelt served guiding this nation through the Great Depression and World War II. "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" is inscribed on a granite block, along with other famous quotations from Roosevelt’s speeches. 


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Sculptures inspired by photographs depict the 32nd President: A 10-foot statue shows him in a wheeled chair; a bas-relief depicts him riding in a car during his first inaugural.


Arlington Cemetery


Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Virginia, is an American military cemetery established during the American Civil War on the grounds of Arlington House which is revered as the most sacred shrine of the United States.


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The cemetery is situated directly across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., adjacent to the site where The Pentagon is located.


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Women’s Memorial At Arlington


Soldiers from all the nation’s wars are interred in the cemetery, from the American Revolution through the military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq.


Tomb of the Unknowns


The Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery is also known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Tomb of the Unknowns stands top of a hill overlooking Washington, D.C.


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Tomb of the Unknown  – Front View


The Tomb includes: Unknown Soldiers of World War I, Unknown Soldiers of World War II, Unknown Soldiers of the Korean War, Unknown Soldiers of the Vietnam War and other unknown servicemen. The Tomb of the Unknowns is guarded by the U.S. Army 24 hours a day, 365 days a year (366 days a year during Leap Years).


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Tomb of the Unknown  – Rear View


Walking the Mat


There is a particular ritual that the guard follows when walking over the graves:


1. The soldier walks 21 steps across the Tomb which is the highest honor given to any military or foreign dignitary. His or her weapon is always on the shoulder opposite the Tomb.
2. On the 21st step, the soldier turns and faces the Tomb for 21 seconds.
3. The soldier then turns to face the other way across the Tomb and changes his or her weapon to the outside shoulder.
4. After 21 seconds, the first step is repeated.


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This is repeated until the soldier is relieved of duty at the Changing of the Guard. The Tomb of Unknowns is well guarded and disciplined.


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Memorial Amphitheater


The Tomb of the Unknowns is part of the Arlington Memorial Amphitheater. The Memorial Amphitheater has hosted state funerals and Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies. About 5,000 people attend these holiday ceremonies each year. The amphitheater was constructed to honor American soldiers.


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The Amphitheater


J.F Kennedy Grave


The grave of President John F. Kennedy is also located here. President Kennedy is buried with his wife and two of their children. His grave is marked with an eternal flame. His brother, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, is also buried nearby. His grave is marked by a simple wooden cross.


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Space Shuttle Memorial 


The Space Shuttle Challenger Memorial was dedicated on May 20, 1986 in memory of the crew of flight STS-51-L, who died during launch on 28 January 1986. Although many remains were identified and returned to the families for private burial, some were not, and were laid to rest under the marker. Two of the crewmembers, Scobee and Smith, are buried in Arlington, as well. There is also a similar memorial to those who died when the Shuttle Columbia broke apart during reentry on February 1, 2003, dedicated on the first anniversary of the disaster. We can also see the name of Kalpana Chawla engraved on this memorial here.


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Viewing such an honored and disciplined place makes for a memorable travel trip.  I have presented few photographs of the above monuments. I hope you will enjoy them.


We clicked all these photographs using Cannon Rebel XT DSLR Camera.


(I have referred different sources for writing the historical facts of some monuments.)


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The White House – A view from the garden


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Korean War Veterans Memorial


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Korean War Veterans Memorial


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Jefferson’s Memorial from across the river


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Grave of President John F. Kennedy

Author: Rosanne DSouza- USA