Touching discoveries in Washington, DC
The Monuments by Moonlight WISH event on May 29th took a group of interns to stop and look at some of DC’s most iconic and recognizable monuments and buildings, such as the Capitol and the Washington monument. One of the stops was the World War II memorial. Though I had driven past it with my dad, I had the opportunity to explore it with the tour group. I walked around noticing the incredible details, like the various scenes of people along the walls sculpted from some type of metal. I looked up to see some quotes neatly carved into the stone walls. As I was walking around the Pacific side of the memorial, I noticed a stand with a picture of a man in military uniform contained in a clear, plastic cover with a partially ripped sticky note that said “feel free to read.” I assumed the man served in World War II. To the right, there was a closed Ziploc bag with a ripped, somewhat wet hand-written letter on golden, blue-lined paper with a golden-colored object that appeared to be a whistle.
I bent down to read it, and as I recall, the letter said something about how someone’s father—I couldn’t make out the father’s name and the name of the writer–was active in Memorial Day observances and whomever wrote it wanted to honor him in the way that he would honor others. I was so touched by this letter I decided to look through the rest of the contents in the plastic cover of the first man. There were more photos, like a group of Marines and what looked like information on their squadron or battalion. On the last page was a photo of the man, far from his youth, fishing in a river looking peaceful.
I thanked the man for his service and reflected on the significance of this touching display. This may be a beautiful memorial, but it holds great meaning to lots of people. I thought of my grandfather who fought in the war; this memorial applies to him, too.
On the Atlantic side, there was some kind of black-and-white fabric, the white layered over the black to resemble a wreath, with a black-and-white-photo of a man enclosed in a black picture frame. There was a white banner wrapped around the bottom of the wreath showing the name of the man, along with “captured 1944 escaped 1945” and “POW MIA” in bold black letters with a black star between POW and MIA.
On the top right corner sat a decorative piece with a white star, blue flowers and a red object. A white heart with stars and stripes split evenly down the middle was home to a water-damaged sticky note that said “Marion White – Army Battle of the Bulge” in black pen.
I let this display sink in. To see a memorial stand proudly in the sun is nice, but to see personalized tributes to parents or grandparents put this memorial–and this war–in perspective.
WISH has allowed me to explore Washington, DC and discover new places. I have lived in DC only a few weeks, but those few weeks have been more enjoyable than I imagined. In addition to sightseeing, I have noticed a change in how I look at the world and how I look at myself. Living here has made me more independent and increased my ability to problem-solve without the help of an outside party. At WISH, the internship is only part of the DC experience. Discover your potential at www.internsdc.com.
Update: This post was updated on July 10, 2019 to insert some pictures of the items described in the story.