Armistice Day 2014

The Great War, described at the time as the “War to End all Wars,” ended at 11:00 AM on November 11, 1918.  The day first became known as Armistice Day and then Veterans Day and is now an occasion to honor those who died or were wounded in all wars.

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And so last evening, it seemed fitting to revisit the recently unveiled American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial near Bartholdi Park in Washington, DC.  As I was framing an image across the main pool, I noticed a man and his companion moving into my frame and I waited a few seconds until they were centered and then pressed the shutter.

I felt I needed to know a little more about his story and I went over to see him.  His name is Dennis and we spoke for a few minutes.  In January, 1967 Dennis was a young draftee sent to Vietnam. He arrived at the main replacement center in Long Binh and was assigned to the 2nd Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division based in Cu Chi.  His unit was the “Wolfhounds” battalion.  In June, he was wounded in combat and his tour was over.  As we spoke, several strangers came over, shook his hand, and thanked him.

Dennis told me he would be over at “The Wall” today with a bunch of his friends, also wounded veterans, where they will be smoking cigars and “telling Lies.”   As I walked away, thinking about our conversation, I marveled at his quiet strength and positive outlook.

Washington, DC: October Scouting Report

Breaking News: There is a new Memorial in town–the “American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial.”  It was dedicated in a special ceremony on Sunday, October 5th and was opened to the public yesterday.  An excellent article by Phillip Kennecott, the Washington Post Architecture Critic, gives all the details which can be found here.

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The Monument is located on a small plot of land bounded by three main streets a block or so away from the US Botanical Garden.  I visited it on Monday afternoon to check on the photographic opportunities.  As Kennecott notes, with one exception, the location is not surrounded by a majestic background.  That exception is the southwest corner where there is a fabulous view looking toward the US Capitol Building (northeast of the Memorial) as shown in the image below. Hard to see in this size, so click on the image for a better view.  Mid-afternoon is not the best time for a photograph, but I imagine that this could be pretty nice at twilight.

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The main features include two infinity pools. The larger pool, shaped as a triangle, is only ankle-high and on calm days could provide some impressive reflections as suggested by the image above. The second,  is star-shaped and is about knee-high and punctuated by a burning flame emerging from a bubbling fountain (see image below).

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At the south end, there is a series of glass panels, with etchings of quotes and images.  It is this section which is the most compelling and reminds us of the costs of going to war.

While I was there I wandered over to the US Capitol to check on the progress of the scaffolding.  It has grown considerably since my last visit but they have more to add.  The entire West Front is becoming increasingly absorbed by the renovation work.  There now is a shiny aluminum catwalk traversing the north (left) side of the building emanating from an enormous construction support compound that houses the nerve center of the renovation project.

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But the positive news today is the appearance of this new memorial and the purpose for which it was created.  When you get a chance, check it out.  The Federal Center SW Metro stop is only two blocks away.