Landmark of the Month (March): The Lincoln Memorial (Part IV)

The Lincoln Memorial has also been the site of some of history's most famous events. I
offer three examples:

1) 1939: Opera singer Marian Anderson was refused permission to perform at Constitution Hall in Washington because she was an African-American. The year before, Ms. Anderson had given seventy recitals in the United States--at that time, the longest, most intensive tour in concert history for any singer. At the suggestion of the First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Anderson performed from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday, 1939, to a live audience of 75,000, and a nationwide radio audience.

Marian Anderson is greeted by Harold L. Ickes, Secretary of the
Interior, at the Lincoln Memorial on 9 April 1939 .

Marian Anderson performs before 75,000 spectators.

You can watch a film of that day

2) 1994: After years of separation, Forrest Gump is reunited with
Jenny during a massive protest at the Lincoln Memorial (theoretically,

it was the Vietnam protest of October 15, 1969). You can see where the

jubilant reunion took place, and even re-enact it yourself.

Forrest Gump, looking for Jenny.

And what I consider the most significant:

3) August 28, 1963: An estimated 250,000 crowded the Lincoln Memorial to hear Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr deliver his famous "I Have A Dream" speech as part of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, a high point of the American Civil Rights Movement. A marked tile designates the place where Dr. King stood during his speech. You can stand on the spot today, and get a sense of modern-day history.

Before the speech.

Four days before the rally, King told a Birmingham journalist that he felt his Aug 28th speech needed to be a "Gettysburg Address" kind of speech- noteworthy and inspiring and memorable.

Forty-five years later, here is a brief snippet of the 604 words he came up with:

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed --- "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal."

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning "My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring." And if America is to be a great nation this must come true.

So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California.

But not only that ---

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain in Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

You can watch it here.

Landmark of the Month (March): The Lincoln Memorial (Part III)

The giant sculpture of Lincoln was carved by Daniel Chester
French, an American sculptor who found his greatest fame with his statue of Lincoln. In the years since he carved Lincoln, a bit of controversy
has arisen over the statue.
Daniel Chester French (1850-1931 ). Obviously, I didn't take this photo.

There is a popular legend (urban myth) in America that claims
that Abraham Lincoln is shown using sign language to represent his
initials, with his left hand shaped to form an "A" and his right hand to
form an "L".

The National Park Service flatly denies both stories. Classical artists
and French historians also claim that this is not true, but consider
these facts:

Daniel Chester French was born deaf at birth. He developed the
ability to read lips later in life, but he was profoundly and
permanently deaf.

In 1889, French created a statue of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet and
his first pupil, Alice Cogswell. The manual letter "A" is the whole
point and focus of the statue. This statue portrays Gallaudet teaching
Alice the first letter of the manual alphabet; it's the moment in which
she begins her education. It also led to the creation of Gallaudet

French's 1898 statue of Thomas Galluadet and Alice Cosgrove.

Gallaudet University is a federally chartered,
quasi-governmental university for the education of the deaf and
hard-of-hearing, located in Washington, D.C. It was the first school for
the advanced education of the deaf and hard-of-hearing in the world, and
is still the world's only university i
n which all programs and services
are specifically designed to accommodate deaf and hard of hearing

Now for the Big Question? Guess who signed the federal
legislation that created Gallaudet University in 1864? If you guessed
Abraham Lincoln, proceed to the head of the class. Daniel French had
often expressed his gratitude that Lincoln had signed the legislation to
promote deaf education.

It's also interesting to note that this was not the first
sculpture French had done with a deaf connection. In 1881, President
James A. Garfield (a good friend and supporter of the "National
Deaf-Mute College", first as a Congressman and then as President) had
been assassinated. The College commissioned a marble memorial bust of
Garfield and a young, not-yet-famous sculptor, Daniel Chester French,
was selected to execute it. The Garfield bust is on display at Gallaudet

It's not exactly a conspiracy theory, but I'd say there are too
many coincidences for this to be an accident.

Next time you are at the Lincoln Memorial, check it out for

Landmark of the Month (March): The Lincoln Memorial (Part II)

If America is a melting pot, then the Lincoln Memorial is a good place to go to watch all those ingredients swirling around together. A trip to the steps of the Memorial will expose you to a variety of different cultures, more than any trip to Disneyland or Yosemite.

I sat on the steps one day for an hour, and saw all the colors of the rainbow in just a few moments.

I saw an African-American family posing for pictures underneath the statue of Lincoln.

I saw an elderly Muslim couple hobble up the steps and study the words of the Gettysburg Address.

I saw a lady from Liberia proudly posing with her son, a naturalized citizen and her grandson, a first-generation American citizen.

I saw Indians and Asians and Native Americans and Mexicans and numerous others, all on a Tuesday night.

Many people make a visit to the Memorial and don't know that there is a historical exhibit underneath the Memorial (along with a set of public bathrooms that are often overlooked!). Enter through a door to the left on the main staircase--it's a well-done exhibit that you don't want to miss.

Landmark of the Month (March): The Lincoln Memorial

There are literally hundreds of monuments and memorials in Washington, DC. Some of them are very well known, such as the Washington Monument, and others are fairly obscure, such as the Titanic Memorial. I wanted to start this series of monthly spotlights with what I think is one of the most significant structures in all of Washington--the Lincoln Memorial.

The National Mall is the centerpiece of downtown DC. Anchored on one end by the massive buildings of the US Capitol, the Mall stretches two miles to the significant anchor on the other end: the square, dominating presence of the Lincoln Memorial.

General info about the Lincoln Memorial: Obviously, it is a Memorial to the 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, who was President from March 4, 1861 until his assassination on April 14, 1864. The site was chosen in 1901, but the building wasn't started until 1914 (groundbreaking occurred on Lincoln's birthday, February 12th!). It was dedicated in 1992, and attended by Robert Todd Lincoln, Abe's only surviving child.

While the building is built out of Indiana limestone and Colorado marble, the large statue of Lincoln (19'9" tall and 19 feet wide) was carved from 28 blocks of white Georgia marble by Daniel Chester French, a deaf American sculptor. It has 36 massive columns (each 37 feet high)--one each for the 36 states in the Union at the time of his death. The names of the 48 states of the Union when the Memorial was completed are carved on the exterior attic walls.

The statue of Lincoln dominates the main hall, with the inscription, "IN THIS TEMPLE, AS IN THE HEARTS OF THE PEOPLE FOR WHOM HE SAVED THE UNION, THE MEMORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN IS ENSHRINED FOREVER" carved into the wall above his head.

The southern cella (a Latin architectural term for a small chamber) wall is carved with his most famous speech, the Gettysburg Address (November 19, 1863), while the northern cella wall features his second Inaugural Address (March 4,1865). He closes that speech with the famous lines, "With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan -- to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations."

Interesting enough, the last phrase (starting with "to care for him") was later adopted as the Mission Statement for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Coming soon: historic events that have occurred at the Lincoln Memoria

The Start of a New 34-Month Project

Ginger & I will be here in Washington, DC for 3 years, and to feed my inner historian and amateur tour guide, I have decided to highlight one landmark, monument, memorial or historical (or hysterical) point of interest each month for the remainder of our time here. I'm sure I'll devote time to the big ones, but I'll also try to go off the beaten path and see some of the less well-known landmarks.

Stop by often, as I'll try to update the Selection of the Month several times a month. If you have a favorite place, or an area of interest, feel free to let me know and I'll snoop around and see what I can come up with.

I also got a new camera, and it's a good excuse to put it to work.

Mountaineering in Ecuador

Even the smaller peaks in Ecuador are higher than most anything in the continental U.S. We got in an early climb of GuaGua before the students came, then went back with all of them a few days into the course. It was full on winter conditions; cold and wet with horizontal snow. The weather was so bad that I didn't even take my camera out of the pack.
The "monument" on top of GuaGua Pinchincha; 4781 m (15,777 feet)

Several days later, we headed 60km north to Caymbe, an extinct stratovolcano that tops out at 18,996'. The drive winds up rutted 4WD roads through the Andean highlands, and the amateur ornithologists among us (ok, that's probably just me) were excited to see three Andean Condors (Vultur gryphus)! FYI, it's the only true Vulture in the world, can live to be 50 years old, and has a wingspan of up to 10 feet in width!
We spent two nights in the hut, el refugio, at about 15,000', but fresh snow and warm weather brought high avalanche danger. We made two attempts at the summit, but due to conditions, never got higher than ~17,000'. Translated, that meant a lot of time eating, sleeping, and playing endless games of Gin Rummy.
Passing the time in the hut.

Learning snow skills and rope management at the foot of the glacier.

Dawn, high on the rock ridge before the Cayambe glacier. The hut can be seen in the lower right hand corner

Remanso de Amor

All of Summit's courses this year in Ecuador have been working with Remanso de Amor (Haven of Love), an organization in south Quito. Remanso works in a poor neighborhood of about 20,000 people, and operates both a church and a school for kids, K-10th grade.
Remanso currently has about 80 children enrolled in the school--many of these come from single parent homes where the Father is absent. Abuse of all types (alcohol, drug, physical, etc) is rampant, and outside of an education, many of these children have very little hope of a better life. For $40 a month, they get two meals a day (for most, it's the only food they will have), uniforms, and more importantly, the foundation of an education that can drastically change their lives.
Summit has been helping in a wide variety of ways, from white-washing walls to helping in the school cafeteria to making home visits with the school's social workers. We whitewashed so many walls that when the kids saw us walking down the street, they would yell out the window, "Hola pinturas!" (Hi painters!)Tom mixes whitewash, the old-fashioned way.

These were some of the most meaningful times on this course. These kids didn't care what your nationality was, or your political affiliation, or your views on theology or end-times eschatology. They wanted you to play with them, to hold them, to have fun with them. I'll introduce you to a few of them with their pictures.

Images In/Around Quito

At 2,000,000+ people, Quito is a large city, and is extremely long and narrow. Quito sits in the valley between two major Andean mountain ranges (the Cordillera Occidental & the Cordillera Oriental) at just below 10,000'.

We visited the National Basilica, which compared to many of the cathedrals of Europe, is almost brand new. It was started in the early 1900's, and only completed in the 1970s. Amazingly, you can climb all the way to the very top of the bell towers, which of course we did, for the best view in the city.
Between the bell towers (below), you can see a statue off in the distance. This statue of the Virgin Mary (the Virgen de Quito), located on a small hill known as el panecillo (small loaf of bread), was built on the site of a legendary Incan temple. Many of Ecuador's modern religious shrine were built by the Spainards (who conquered the Incas in the 1530's) on the site of older religious sites.

Of course, Ecuador gets its name from the Ecuator, which splits both the country, and the Earth, in half. Below is a picture of the geodesic landmark designating the ecuator.

It's a fascinating city, full of modern technology and old world charm at the same time.