Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Jefferson Memorial: A Photo Tribute

In celebration of America's Independence Day, here are some additional photos of the Jefferson Memorial taken by Jennifer and me on our recent vacation to Washington, DC.  Jennifer took the first two from our trolley and from the FDR Memorial along the Tidal Basin.  I took the others on my solo trek to the Memorial a couple of days later.
Jennifer took this shot from our trolley as we paused on a bridge crossing the Tidal Basin. We are looking northeast, showing both the Jefferson Memorial and the Washington Monument - in scaffolding undergoing repairs.
The Memorial reflected in the Tidal Basin.  The FDR Memorial is up a small hill behind us.

Detail of the Memorial's front facade bathed in the light of the setting sun.

The impressive 19-foot statue of our third President.  A quote from the Declaration of Independence is engraved on the marble wall behind Thomas Jefferson.  There are four such quotations inside the open-air Memorial.

Jefferson was a writer first and foremost.  He did not possess a commanding voice and his speaking abilities were not particularly charismatic.  These words contain probably his most famous and timeless phrase: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..."

There are four such sections from Jefferson's writings inside the Memorial.  More Americans should remember these words: "No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship or ministry or shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but all men shall be free to profess and by argument maintain their opinions in the matter of religion."

Jefferson, who professed no religion but, rather, edited the New Testament to suit his own views, was nevertheless a spiritual person: "God who gave us life gave us liberty....when I reflect that God is Just, that His justice cannot sleep forever.  Commerce between Master and Slave is despotism. Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free."  Of course, Jefferson owned many slaves in his lifetime.  His contradictory personal nature fascinates me and is a revelation of Southern American culture, such as it still exists at all.

My favorite quote in the Memorial: "Laws and Institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind...with the change of circumstances institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times."  Jefferson was in no way a "static" thinker.  He realized that governments must evolve with changing circumstances.  I know of very few political figures who have been willing to proclaim the limitations of their own politics in the future tense.

The portico facade as entryway to the domed colonnade of the Memorial.

The crescent Moon graced the top of the Memorial as I entered.

A profile of the statue from the eastern side of the Memorial looking west.

Detail of the marvelous neoclassical colonnade.

Another profile of the statue, this time from the western side facing east.

The back of the Memorial facing north.  From this angle the Memorial looks almost of alien design, certainly its domed nature makes it look more like something in Italy or Greece than in the United States.  The accent of trees is wonderful.

Finally, a profile facing the west from the eastern side.  The sun has already set and the dream-like night lighting in the dome is just becoming visible.

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