Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Washington National Cathedral - Magnificent and Breathtaking Architectual

July 2010

Another location that one must visit is the Washington National Cathedral. It is truly a magnificent and breathtaking building, built in classical Gothic style which makes it looks like it was built somewhere in Europe in the Middle Ages.

Construction started in 1907 but was only completed in 1990, taking a staggering 84 years to complete. The cathedral is also known as the Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul. It is 301 feet high and 517 feet long. This limestone building was built with minimal concrete and structural steel but medieval techniques were used.

When I walked into the main hall, the high ceiling and her structure amplifies her grandness and the feeling is simply awesome. There are many halls and different chambers and each with their own uniqueness and stories to tell. Besides being a venue where several past presidents' funeral was held, the most recent being the funeral of former President Ronald Regan, it is also a venue where many famous have preached from her pulpit.

A wooden garden chair in the garden at the back of the cathedral surrounding by beautiful and serene greenery. I wonder who would have sat there over the years .....

Iwo Jima Memorial - a simple Moment captured and remembered eternally

July 2010

The Iwo Jima Memorial (also known as the US National Marine Corps War Memorial) was built to remember those who have fought so bravely and fallen in that historical and one of the bloodiest battle of War World II at the Pacific.

US launched an offensive on Iwo Jima with 70,000 soldiers on February 19, 1945. Capturing the island which was the base where the Japanese was launching kamikaze attacks on the US warships was crucial to the Allied Forces both to stop the launch as well as to prepare a base to launch Allied Forces bombing raids on Japanese mainland.

Defending the island, a total of over 6800 Allied Forces and 23,000 Japanese soldiers were killed. On the 23 February, Allied Forces captured the Mount Suribachi, the highest point at Iwo Jima. A group of 5 Marines and a Navy corpsman raised the American flag and the historical moment was captured and immortalised by news photographer Joe Rozenthal, which ultimately became the symbol of the war in Pacific.

Incidentally, 3 of the original 6 soldiers who put up the flag that historical moment did not make it and were later killed in Iwo Jima.

As I walked round the memorial, I just can’t help to feel sad that so many has to die to defend freedom and tyranny and all rather unnecessarily if only the human race knows how to control their greed for power, fame and pure insanity.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Jefferson's Memorial, Washington DC

July 2011

A short distance away from the Lincoln Memorial, located at the West Potomac Park along the banks of the Potomac River Tidal Basin is the Jefferson’s Memorial, built to commemorate President Thomas Jefferson, an American Founding Father and the third President of the United States.

Construction started in 1939 and finally completed in 1943.

Within the memorial stands a 19 foot tall bronze statue of Thomas Jefferson looking out towards the White House, added in 1947.

The walls of the memorial are engraved with Jefferson’s writings, most prominent being the excerpts from the Declaration of Independence written in 1776.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

National World War II Memorial, Washington DC - the Price for Freedom

July 2010

Right after the Washington Monument and just before the long reflecting pool leading to the Lincoln Memorial, stands the National World War II Memorial.

This memorial is to remember the more than 16 million braves who have fought in the devastating World War II and the over 400,000 who have given their lives in the fight for freedom and against tyranny.

One side of the memorial was dedicated to those who have fought so bravely at the Atlantic while the other is dedicated to those who have braved the fierce jungle and islands of the Pacific.

There was also a Freedom Wall, on the west side of the memorial, with a view of the Reflecting Pool with a total of 4,048 gold stars, each star representing 100 American soldiers who have died in the war. In front of the wall, is inscribed the words, “Here we mark the price of freedom” and a heavy price it was….

I wish that the powers in the world would stand before these 404,800 braves and resolute to maintain freedom and peace without ever paying such a heavy price ever again …but then again, Man is a creature of greed and ambition, both a powerful fuel to the current never ending struggles, conflict and war around the world ….sad isn’t it …..that we will never ever learn …..

Monday, May 16, 2011

Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC - where dreams become reality

Of all the previous presidents of America, almost everyone would definitely remember the great Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President who fought the American Revolution, opposed black slavery and was so famously assassinated while watching a play.

Hence, the Lincoln Memorial has become another MUST SEE attraction when one visits Washington DC.

The White House, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial are all aligned in a straight line. Walking from the Washington Monument, one will come to the World War II Memorial, where the braves of World War II are remembered. While I was walking along the reflection pool towards the Lincoln Memorial, I could not help the sense of excitement of finally `meeting’ this great man.

As I walked up the steps leading to the Lincoln Memorial, I stood at the very same spot where in 1963, (5 months after my birth) the great Martin Luther King Jr gave his famous `I have a dream’ speech to over 250,000 people, one of the greatest political gathering in history. As I stood there, looking over the reflection pool and towards the Washington Monument, I can vividly imagine being right there with the great Dr Martin and hearing him proclaimed proudly, “ ….. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character….I HAVE A DREAM TODAY! ..”

As I walked into the monument, I am dwarfed by the huge statue of the great Abraham Lincoln, sitting there with such awe and seriousness, looking out to the Washington Monument, as if he is there to watch over the nation that he gave his life for. The two great speeches by Lincoln was grafted on either side…the famous Gettysburg address and the second inaugural address….

Again, as I stood before this great man, enveloped in his great presence, I can almost hear him proclaimed ….`Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation …….that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.’

I came excited to meet one of my idol and I left humbled and touched by remembering two great man in the history of mankind who gave their lives for something that they have a deep convictions on ....

What a better place to affirm their love for each other than in front of the great Abraham Lincoln ....

Thursday, May 12, 2011

White House, Washington DC - where a world leader dreams

The most memorable scene I remembered of this landmark was when it was blasted to dusts by aliens in the movie `Fourth of July'.

This is definitely a landmark that every tourist in Washington DC would visit and I was no different. In fact, this is the FIRST landmark that I made my way to visit on my very first day there, simply because I was curious about the residence of one of the most powerful leader on earth.

One definitely could not get near to this building and security around this site is extremely tight. With the many tourists scrambling to get their picture taken with this building in their background, getting a clear shot was definitely a challenge. Having a telezoom lens would definitely be an advantage here. I was using my Nikkor 18-105mm then and had to wait patiently till I could get a small opening and squeeze my camera through between the steel bars of the iron fence to get a clear shot.

Well, I have fulfilled my dream of having a glimpse with my very own eyes the place where one of the most powerful leader on earth dreams .....

Washington Monument - A tribute to a great man

I love Washington DC simply because there are so many attractions and sites to visit and truly a photography haven. It is a very easy city to navigate from one attractions to another and withing a day, you would be walking about as if you have stayed there for years.

Another attraction that truly baffles me is the Washington Monument, yet another magnificent and interesting architecture. Again, it is easy to identify with the attractions in Washington as many of them have appeared or featured so frequently in movies that we have grown to love.

You would not miss this magnificent structure anywhere in Washington as it stands over 555 feet tall. The cornerstone was laid on the fourth of July 1848 but the monument was not completed until 1884. The break in between due to political turmoil and a lack of funds, can be seen and witnessed in the two tone colours of the white marbles used for the construction.

This monument was built as a tribute to George Washington's military leadership between 1775 to 1783 during the American Revolution.

The Washington Monument is opened daily from 9am to 4.45pm where admission requires a free ticket which must be reserved in advance.

A very familiar view. One you would remember if you have watched Forest Gump where Gump ran to meet up with Jeannie who was running through the pool. I took this shot from the exact same spot where Dr Martin Lurther King gave his famous `I have a dream' speech. The feeling of just standing there was phenomena and I can still hear his powerful words echoing in my head and the surrounding ...

A peek of the Washington Monument through a connecting bridge on our way to visit the Jefferson's Memorial.

Like I said earlier, you can see this monument from almost anywhere in Washington DC. I love the dramatic skies and clouds formation with the clear reflection on the lake.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Capitol Hill, Washington – Power House where decisions can affect the world

July 2010

We have all seen this famous building so very often in that idiot box sitting in all our living room. The building where some of the world’s most powerful people meet and make decisions that affect the world, affecting you and affecting me, directly or indirectly. This is the building where world leaders meet, discuss, argue and agree on many issues affecting an entire nation.

Therefore, obviously, one of my main focus during my trip to Washington was to ensure that I walked the same ground and get as close as I possibly could to this landmark.

Washington is such an organised city and getting to this building was just a 25 minutes walk from my hotel.

Capitol Hill is more than what I had in mind and the very experience of standing there was mind staggering. Besides being massive, the architecture of this landmark is breathtaking. Looking across the Grant memorial and the reflection pool at Capitol Hill, one could not help but to marvel at the grandeur of this magnificent masterpiece. I was told that the one would know whether the House was in session or whether the Senate and the President is in by simply looking at the flags on either side of the building. Well, when I was there, the President is obviously in since both flags were up.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Arlington, Washington DC - The final resting place

July 2010

When I knew I will be visiting Washington DC, I reminded myself that I must visit Arlington. I am not sure why but probably the images from movies like `Saving Private Ryan' left a pretty deep impression in me. I want to visit the place where the war heroes and those who have fought so valiantly for their country is laid to rest for all eternity. I wanted to sense the atmosphere for myself.

Being a Chinese, the Chinese cemetery is the last place that I would want to visit because it is normally a rather scary place to be. However, Arlington seemed so peaceful and the neatly arranged white tombstones look so mesmerizing .....

I arrived at Arlington with much anticipation and a sense of excitement. When I finally walked into Arlington, I was immediately taken in by the deep sense of serenity and tranquility of the entire place. There is somehow a sense of awe as I walked past the rows and rows of neatly arranged white tombstones. It is everything I envisioned it to be and more ...

I sat down on one of the many lonely benches scattered all over this huge vast landscape. My mind and imagination brings me back to yesteryear where many have traveled and walked the very same path. I can vividly see families and love ones in black weeping silently as another soldier is laid to rest here amidst his comrades in arms ....

I came with a sense of curiosity, I left with a sense of awe and respect....

Rock of Ages, Cleft for me
Let me Hide myself in Thee ...