Sunday, May 19, 2013
If it's been a while since your last trip, there are plenty of fresh sites to visit
Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Saturday, October 13, 2012
Looming high above the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. another historical figure joins the likes of Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson in keeping watch on this capital city. With arms crossed, one hand clenched around a rolled-up paper and a thoughtful eye looking across the water, this 30-foot-high likeness of Martin Luther King, Jr. is etched into "the stone of hope." It lies just beyond a similar feature called "the mountain of despair." Both names come from lines in King's "I have a dream" speech on the National Mall in 1963.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial opened in August 2011 following decades of planning and construction. It joins dozens of other monuments embracing the ideas of freedom and justice and the hope of extending those ideas to all.
This area nestled between the Potomac River and the Tidal Basin is also home to the FDR Memorial. Unlike the Lincoln and Washington monuments, this treasure remains virtually hidden among the trees along the water between the Jefferson and King memorials.
Divided into four sections, the FDR Memorial takes you on a journey through the President's four terms. Water features dominate each section, with one devoted to the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority. Statues remain the other dominant feature of the memorial. Many depict the President, while others depict ordinary people living during the Roosevelt era.
About 30 miles away another symbol of American greatness is now parked inside the relatively new Udvar-Hazy extension of the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum. As soon as you step inside the building, the nose of the Space Shuttle Discovery comes into view. It is one of the biggest draws in this museum filled with a seemingly endless array of airplanes and spacecraft including the Enola Gay and a Concorde supersonic airliner.
Discovery's sheer size is enough to give you pause. However, knowing the program it came from makes it seem larger than life. As you stand beside Discovery the effects of its 30 missions quickly become evident. The sides of this massive machine resemble a tattered quilt filled with white and black squares. The tiles underneath Discovery show scars of years of hard work.
While science remains supreme at the Udvar-Hazy Center, science fiction also makes a few appearances. Just a few steps away from the Shuttle Discovery, you will find a model used in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." A close look reveals hidden items tied to other famous sci-fi films. The Udvar-Hazy Center also had time in the spotlight during "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," a piece of Hollywood history now showcased in a special exhibit.
Transformation remains a big focus back on the National Mall. Crews are busy working on what appears to be countless projects. Eventually the entire space between the U.S. Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial will undergo a massive makeover.
You Can Help
The National Mall is in a state of disrepair.
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