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Sunday, June 13, 2004
08:43 pm UTC @Creator MightyE The Washington D.C. World War II Memorial
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My wife and I took a bus trip with her parents yesterday down to Washington D.C. We hit the Air & Space museum, Washington Monument, Lincoln Monument, and the Natural History museum. Of course one day is not enough time to do all of those things and give them sufficient attention.

The other thing we did, and about which I would like to talk today, is visit the new World War II memorial. I've never been in a war, and I hope never to be. I cannot fathom what this experience must be like to have lived through something like this; it's somewhat like water understanding what it's like to be oil. They share many of the same characteristics, and can even look enough alike that it might be difficult at times to tell them apart, but when you mix them, there is a certain quality that causes the oil to rise above the water, and a barrier that will always separate them from each other, even if they do live at times side by side. The price for owning this quality is far more than any person should be expected to pay, and never previously has that been more dramatically demonstrated to me than when I was standing in the midst of a crowd of people, many of whom were standing, mouths open in silent awe, in the WWII memorial.

There is this wall of bronze stars above a reflecting pool. Each star represents 100 people who died. I wouldn't have been able to hope to count them all with out resorting to my calculator to multiply the rows by the columns, and even then, it'd have taken no small amount of time to count the rows and columns. In the distance behind these stars is the half-mile long reflecting pool, and at the far side of that is the Lincoln monument. Standing in front of the stars with your back to them, you'll see the Washington monument staring down on you.

It is a truly humbling experience. If for even a moment, standing in here, you feel anything but humble, you should turn and allow the crowd to part for a moment, just long enough to glimpse a single star on the wall, and when you see it, realize that every single person you are close to, as well as many if not all of your acquaintances and relatives do not collectively represent the price that that tiny bronze star represents, sitting nondescript among so many thousands of other stars.

As impressed as I was with this memorial, I took 53 pictures. At one point, I had a perfect shot lined up in my view finder of a great stone bench engraved with "To Restore Freedom and To End Tyrany," above which rises a bronze pillar and a U.S. flag at half staff. I'd been waiting several minutes for the crowd to part long enough to get a good shot of it, when just as they did so, this old guy walks on to the scene and sits down on the bench. Not thinking, I lower my camera and grumble to my wife about my ruined shot. "I think he earned it," she says quietly. Ashamed, I had to agree.

This memorial is positively beautiful. If you are ever in the area of Washington, go and see it. I attached a couple of images here.

Standing under the "Pacific" entrance, looking over the crowd.
Looking up at the Pennsylvania pylon, a rose perched in the lower right.
The field of brass stars.
Old man on the bench.

Those pictures are at 800x600 resolution. If any would like a higher res version, I have 2560x1920 images (should be bigger than your desktop no matter how high your resolution, hehe). Just send me a yom with your email address. The files are each about 1 meg just so you know what you'd be in for.

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