The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

June 3, 2012

Newsroom noise: Monuments, memorials on the Mall

By Courtney L. Saylor
Herald Staff Writer

---- — When I heard from Jim Masotto that the Sharon VFW and American Legion wanted to send a veteran to Washington to see the monuments and all the other sights, I was instantly on board.

I've been to the mall a number of times in the last eight years, as my sister Stacy lives in Alexandria and works for the federal government.

To be honest, I haven't even bothered to go see the sights the last few times I've visited because I've been there so often.

But my mom and I took the blue line train to the west side of the Washington Monument Saturday afternoon with the plan to see the new Martin Luther King Jr. memorial.

We first stopped at the World War II monument, which I saw a couple weeks within it's opening. It's beautiful the way it incorporates so many elements in honoring the men and women who served. The metal wreaths adorning each pillar for every state and territory and the birds in the towers for the Pacific and Atlantic are lovely and moving and the fountains and pools that reflect the stars at night are a great reminder of those who fought that war from the water.

I'm fairly jaded due in part to my job, but I was brought to tears Saturday at that monument as a group of World War II veterans from Wisconsin and New Jersey were there on a tour. Most of them in wheelchairs, they were alternately quiet and chatty. I overheard a few men telling their families stories from the war that it seemed they'd never heard before. And strangers walked up to thank them for their service and a crowd even gathered and clapped.

We next went to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, which, like most of the monuments, is not done justice by photographs.

There were a lot of people of color there, beaming as they took photographs at what I consider a long-overdue honor for a man who changed this country. You walk through what I think is supposed to be a split mountain to see a monolith with King's likeness carved into one side and quotes on the other two. A wall along the entrance includes many of his most powerful quotes facing the tidal basin, adding to the peacefulness there.

We also squeezed in a stop at my and my mother Bonnie Anderson's favorite monument, the one for the Korean War. There's something about the individual statues of men in the trenches and the wall with etched photos that is mesmerizing and really hits home.

Like all the monuments, I think it's most effective to at night. If you go, you should see them in day and illuminated in the darkness to really get the full effect.

I hope to go along in the fall when the local soldier is chosen. It would be an honor to experience it with him.