Blog title courtesy of Notre Dame’s Washington Program tagline.
Say what you will about Washington DC being a fake city consisting of nothing but tourists and glorified temps who come and go with every election (in fact, I’d probably half agree with you), but I like the monuments and memorials.
I don’t know, I just think they’re cool. With the exception of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (which is my favorite) and maybe to a lesser extent the Korean War Veterans Memorial, none of them are super provocative, which to me is what makes a good memorial. However, they’re still fun to look at. No, there’s nothing emotive or honestly really even that controversial about the Lincoln Memorial. In the end, it’s just a giant statue of a guy in a chair. But you can still marvel at the artistry and technique that went into creating the giant statue of a guy in a chair.
I think, for me, that’s what makes the difference between a cool statue and a memorial — a memorial should have some form of impact for the viewer. And that doesn’t have to be in the form of controversy in its creation or design, as was the case with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (though I do find the story behind its design to be fascinating).
A memorial should make you think or reflect on something — in the case of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, it’s to make you reflect on how terrible war is for just about everyone involved. It’s an ugly wall for an ugly war. To compare, the National World War II Memorial may have a flashy fountain and beautiful sculptures of eagles, but it doesn’t really make you think about anything but how flashy the fountain is and how beautiful the sculptures of the eagles are. For that reason, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is the better memorial — even if it’s the uglier “statue.”
Like I said, though, that’s not to say that some of the “big statue” memorials, like Lincoln or Washington or Jefferson, aren’t still fun to see. They’re just not provocative to see. Comparing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to the Lincoln Memorial is like comparing a Francis Bacon to a Pier1 Imports painting of a fruit bowl — yes, Lincoln is pretty to look at and an impressive display of technique, but what did it really make you think about? We all already know what a fruit bowl looks like, and we all already know that Lincon was a good president.
Anyway, those are my thoughts on the monuments and memorials in DC that you didn’t ask for. One last opinion for the road — how long until a woman gets a memorial on the National Mall of the scale of Lincoln or Jefferson? And who do I have to know in order to get to design it?
That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life this semester in Washington, DC. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Bloglovin, Twitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!