A D.C. Must See | My Family Travels

Quarter Finalist 2009 FTF Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
Thousands flock to our nation’s capitol every year and this past summer I was one of them. The sheer amount of things in Washington DC astounded me.

Thousands flock to our nation’s capitol every year and this past summer I was one of them. The sheer amount of things in Washington DC astounded me. It was tough deciding what to visit. Between the museums, the monuments, and the historical places, how do you decide what to do? Out of all the sights, which are the most interesting? Which are the must sees?

My trip was a whirlwind of quintessentially Washington things: Arlington National Cemetery, the Lincoln Memorial, the Smithsonian, and the White House. All of these places were interesting but there was one sight that I will always remember above the rest: the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.

            I went to the Memorial expecting to see just another monument, one among the many all across Washington, but this one surprised me. At first glance the Jefferson Memorial is a fairly average looking monument. A Greek inspired marble colossus, it sits on the edge of the Tidal Basin towering over the cherry trees atop the traditional flight of marble steps. I hiked up the steps and upon reaching the top the whirlwind of my trip stopped. This was unlike any of the monuments I had seen before.  I was the only one there, just me, the statue of Mr. Jefferson, and the writing that covered the walls.  I think it was the writing that surprised me the most. It was everywhere. The shock of all the writing stopped me in my tracks. I was compelled to sit and read it. Words from our founding documents covered the walls and gave an insight into the mind of a man who was influential in shaping this nation, putting into perspective the dream that America was and still is. This quote wound its way around the ceiling; “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

As an admirer of the Founding Fathers, especially Jefferson, seeing this monument was monumental. It wasn’t the statue, or the fact that this monument was in honor of one of the most influential Founding Fathers; it was the words of wisdom on the walls that made this monument unlike any of the others for me.

Like all other monuments, this one is crawling with tourists during the day. During the heat of the summer being stuck on the inside of a monument with hundreds of other gawkers is the last place you want to be. If you would like to sit down, read the walls and absorb this monument, take my advice: the memorial is open twenty-four hours a day so go see it in the evening. You will be the only one there and the quiet intelligence that the Jefferson Memorial exudes will be all the more tangible. I highly recommend the Thomas Jefferson Memorial to anyone who visits Washington, D.C. For me, it is set apart from all the other things I saw on my trip as a true must see.

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