Sunday, July 13, 2008

Ms. Kitten and Mr. Roosevelt

While I was walking along the Tidal Basin, I came across the FDR memorial, a memorial that was long overdue in Washington, but well worth the wait.

The memorial is divided up into five "rooms", four representing a term of FDR's presidency, and a "Prologue Room." The Prologue Room starts with the presidential seal, with the first year of his tenure in office, 1933, carved below it:

Then we are introduced to the man himself. President Roosevelt had polio, and was wheelchair-bound for the duration of his term.

For some reason I never took pictures in Room One, but I took a few in Room Two. In Room Two, sculptures depict some of the hardships of the times. This first sculpture depicts a man listening to one of FDR's Fireside Chats on the radio.

This next one, and the one that follows, symbolize the poverty and unemployment of the times. The quotes in the walls, which didn't come out well in the photos, talk about some of the New Deal Programs like the Works Progress Administration, which helped the unemployed find jobs.

These relief sculptures are supposed to depict some of the conditions that inspired FDR to create his New Deal programs. Unfortunately, you can't see too much detail in the photos, and I haven't figured out how to "click and enlarge" for detail. (Jane Redmont is an expert at that in her blog.)

One of the organizations that FDR created under the New Deal was the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). The TVA created many jobs for a region hit particularly hard by the Depression. A large series of dams and a few fossil fuel plants were built provide electricity and flood control to the citizens of Tennessee and some parts of Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Kentucky. This water sculpture, one of many in the memorial, symbolizes the creation of the TVA.

Room Three has a marvelous sculpture of FDR and his beloved dog, Fala.

There's another terrific water sculpture adjacent to FDR and Fala. These water sculptures, according to the brochure supplied by the National Park Service, are meant to give the memorial more of a relaxed garden feel, as opposed to a monstrous building.

Room Four begins with a statue of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, which honors her work with the United Nations and human rights issues.

The monument ends with a sculpture of FDR's funeral cortege, which hangs in a small alcove just before you walk out.

This was a truly beautiful monument, and there really is nothing like it in Washington. You really get a feeling of peace as you walk through it, and you don't feel intimidated by imposing sculptures. While I was there, many tourists took the opportunity to pose for pictures of themselves sitting with FDR and Fala. And this memorial is adjacent to the Tidal Basin and the cherry trees; I can only imagine how beautiful it must be in the spring.

I think this has replaced the Lincoln Memorial as my favorite monument in Washington.

No comments: