Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

There’s More to DC Than the Postcard View

There’s nothing quite like a walk to the monuments at night.

A slow stroll down the waterfront just as the sun is setting is a perfect way to welcome the weekend, unwind after a day in Lau, or simply digest a Baked and Wired cupcake. At the end of the walkway, the Lincoln Memorial waits patiently for any visitor, and beyond the reflecting pool, the World War II memorial and the Washington Monument prove excellent backgrounds for shots of the sky as it begins to lose the last of its light.

The monuments are an impressive sight on any day. They serve as valuable reality checks in the midst of busy weeks and instant orientation when exploring the rest of Washington, D.C. I can’t count the number of times I’ve thought myself to be totally lost when a brilliant white corner of the Washington Monument edges into view and provides enough information to steer me into familiar territory. But in my second year here at Georgetown, they’ve also become nearly commonplace, melting into the background of life here in the capital just as seamlessly as the wide suburban streets of home once did.

As certain monuments become something closer to a backdrop than a destination, other powerful tributes go entirely unnoticed. Theodore Roosevelt Island hides a beautiful memorial to the “Great Conservationist” among trails that bisect dense forest. The memorial, which boasts a private plaza and a large statue of the former president thrusting his hand in the air, is tucked away and surprisingly private.

I stumbled across the island, and the forgotten monuments in its center, on a run during freshman year. I’d been aimlessly tracing the trails that wind all over the island when one dumped me right behind a gigantic slab of marble. I was surprised to find Theodore Roosevelt confidently striding out of the other side of the rock, raising his fist imperiously at the empty plaza in front.

The memorial is worth a visit in every season — during the summer, Teddy is immersed in a deep green light. The fall is East Coast-beautiful as the leaves change, and Teddy is again transformed after the first snow. He merits a number of visits, and could really use the company. I’ve never seen more than a handful of guests at the monument.

The U.S. Marine Corps Memorial, another forgotten tribute that can often be found eerily deserted, sits a little farther away from campus. But it’s easily accessible — just get off at the Arlington Cemetery stop on the blue line or continue down the walking path that winds along the Potomac. The memorial sits right in front of the Arlington National Cemetery, but can be a little harder to find because it sits back from the river.

The monument is immediately familiar to most visitors — it depicts the dramatic scene from Iwo Jima in which six American soldiers raise the American flag on a mountain top. The first thing that will strike you is the scale — compared to a relatively diminutive Roosevelt, the staggering soldiers of Iwo Jima tower hugely over any visitor.

Again, this monument is best as the sun is just setting. If you time it just right, the photos will be spectacular. After documenting the moment, lower the shutter and watch the silhouette as the sun sinks even further.

A walk to the Roosevelt and Marine Corps monuments may be a little longer than the typical stroll on the National Mall, but it provides a powerful reality check when the “standard” monuments begin to get a little stale. This unique brand of solitude is well worth a detour from the Hilltop.


Erin Hickok is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service. DISTRICT ON A DIME appears every other Friday.


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