Sunday, May 26, 2013

Washington DC Sightseeing - The FDR Memorial

When visiting Washington DC, one must-see destination is the FDR Memorial. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd president of the United States, is an icon of hope and optimism, and greatly impacted the course of this country in the 20th century. The memorial is located in the Tidal Basin area of Washington DC nestled amongst the famous cherry trees.

The FDR Memorial, dedicated in 1997, is a tribute not just to an incredible man but also his accomplishments and everything he has come to represent in the idea of perseverance. FDR is the only American president to spend twelve years in office so the design of the memorial consists of four separate rooms, one for each four year term. His inspiring words are etched upon the walls of each room, 21 quotes in all.

Statues contained within the rooms are representative of various things that have become, in essence, the signatures of FDR and all he dealt with as a public servant to the American people. Each sculpture was inspired by a photograph, and includes reference to the famous fireside chats, scenes from the Great Depression and also a bronze statue of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, an honor not given to a first lady until now.

The symbolic nature of many things contains in the memorial is noteworthy. Water is a widespread component in all the areas of the memorial, and in its many forms is representative of events ranging from World War II to Roosevelt's death.

Due to the fact that FDR suffered disability from polio, the design of the memorial takes into account the needs of those with disabilities, and even goes as far as having Braille etched on the walls. There was much controversy initially about precisely how to include reference to FDR's use of a wheelchair, as it was not something that was widely publicized in his life. The debate centered mostly on the portrayal of disability in general, and if it should be emphasized that he was a hero due to the fact that he achieved so much while living with a disability. There were arguments for either side, but in the end it was decided to depict him as the public would have seen him, his wheelchair somewhat obscured, and also to show him at the entrance of the memorial clearly seated in a wheelchair.

This memorial differs from other presidential memorials, in that it does not have one focal point statue, and also that it covers a more expansive area of ground. The memorial stands as a reminder of the difficulties that Americans survived with FDR leading the way in encouragement, hope and perseverance. If you're visiting Washington DC then absolutely make time to visit the FDR Memorial. It's worth remembering the man and all he represents.

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