Posts Tagged ‘Judiciary Square’

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Sir William Blackstone Statue

Being on leave from work for the past several weeks, first for the holidays and then unexpectedly for personal reasons, has made me miss my lunchtime excursions to explore the city.  But I am back in the office now, and on my first outing of the new year I encountered a statue located in front of but off to the side near the United States Courthouse.  That statue is of William Blackstone, and like many of the statues and memorials here in D.C. it has an interesting backstory.

Sir William Blackstone was an English jurist, judge and politician of the eighteenth century who is best known for writing a four-volume work on English law. These volumes, known as Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England, would not only dominate the common law legal system for more than a century, but also help shape America’s Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and have a substantial influence in American law.  His Commentaries would also influence the likes of  Alexander Hamilton, John Marshall, John Adams, and Abraham Lincoln.  And to this day, his Commentaries still continue to be cited in Supreme Court decisions.

In the early 1920’s the American Bar Association presented a sculpture of Blackstone to the English Bar Association.  The gift, however, was too tall to be placed in the Royal Courts of Justice.  The sculpture, designed by American artist Paul Wayland Bartlett, was later cast in Europe and the statue was presented back to the United States for display.

The bronze statue is a nine-foot standing portrait of Blackstone dressed in his judicial robes and long curly wig, and holding a copy of his legal publication entitled “Commentaries” in his left hand.  It is elevated on a granite base.  Congress approved the placement of the sculpture in 1943, and appropriated $10,000 for the installation.  It was installed later that year under the authority of the National Park Service.  The statue is on the grounds of the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse, at 333 Pennsylvania Avenue (MAP) in northwest D.C.’s Judiciary Square neighborhood.

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[Click on the photos to view the full-size versions]

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Designated in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy to be observed annually on May 15th, this Sunday is Peace Officers Memorial Day. The Presidential proclamation also designates the week during which that date falls each year as National Police Week. So this week is National Police Week.   In observance of this, on today’s bike ride I visited the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. The Memorial, which is dedicated to all law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty, is located at on E Street, between 4th and 5th Streets (MAP), in northwest D.C.’s Judiciary Square neighborhood.

At the time it was dedicated, the names of over 12,000 fallen officers were engraved on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial’s walls. Currently, there are 20,789 names engraved on the walls of the Memorial, which in addition to local law enforcement officers also includes 1,102 Federal officers, as well as 668 correctional officers and 36 military law enforcement officers. These numbers include 292 female officers.

Unfortunately, unlike most other memorials, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial continues to change from year to year. That is because the new names of fallen officers are added to the monument each spring, in conjunction with National Police Week. This year, there will be 117 more names being added to honor the officers who died in the line of duty in 2015.

In an attempt to capture one of the most personal and human elements of the ever-changing Memorial, during my visit today I took photos of some of the poignant tributes and mementos left behind at the memorial during this year’s National Police Week. Placed at the Memorial by the family, colleagues, friends, and other loved ones of the heroes being honored, the various tributes add a personal touch and an added beauty to the Memorial. They also help us to remember and reflect on the fact that the names are more than an inscription on a wall.  Each name represents someone who knowingly and willingly risked his or her life, and paid the ultimate sacrifice, to protect each of us.  The mementos also give us a glimpse of the pain and the sacrifice of those they left behind.  This also holds true for the 36 law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty already this year.

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Be sure to click on the thumbnails for the full-size photos, so that you can view the details and personalized nature of the tributes.  In addition to the patches, badges, photos and flowers left behind, there are also a number of other personal mementos that may really make you think.

Then after you have browsed through the photos, I encourage you to watch the following short video, narrated by legendary news commentator, author and columnist Paul Harvey, to find out just who policemen and law enforcement officers really are.  And by the way, Paul Harvey’s father, Harry Aurandt, was a  police officer in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  He was killed when Paul Harvey was only three years old.  And his name is inscribed on the wall of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.

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The National Fire Dog Memorial

On this bike ride I went by one of the few local monuments that are not dedicated to either a person or an event. On permanent display at the corner of 5th and F Streets just outside D.C. Fire Department Station #2, the National Fire Dog Monument is located at 500 5th Street (MAP) in northwest D.C.’s Judiciary Square neighborhood.

Also named “Ashes to Answers,” the National Fire Dog Monument is a life-size bronze sculpture depicting an arson dog, with his handler gazing down at his four-legged partner after a job well done. The monument, which was co-sponsored by the State Farm Insurance Company and the American Humane Association, honors the incredible and heroic work that certified accelerant-detection canine teams do to investigate suspicious fires in homes and businesses around the country. Unveiled in late 2013 after an eight-city cross country tour, the monument was sculpted by a Denver area artist named Austin Weishel, who is also a volunteer firefighter with the Windsor-Severance Fire Rescue in Colorado.

The main subject depicted in the monument was modeled after a black Labrador canine agent named Sadie, who in 2011 was named by the American Humane Association as the Hero Dog of the Year. Sadie retired in 2014, leaving only 81 certified arson canine teams at the present time in the United States and Canada. And the D.C. Fire Department is fortunate enough to have two of those teams. The State Farm Insurance Company sponsors the program that trains them.

In a city replete with monuments and memorials, the National Fire Dog Monument has quickly gained popularity, especially among local residents. In a “Monument Madness Contest” held by The Washington Post, 32 different statues and monuments competed against each other for the distinction of the most popular in D.C. There were four categories of competitors entitled: “Presidents and Founding Fathers”; “Arts and Sciences”; “War and Peace”, and; the grouping in which the National Fire Dog Monument was categorized, named “What the Heck is That?” In a come-from-behind, Cinderella-story victory, the monument took home the top prize in the tournament, receiving more votes than any of its more famous competitors, including The Washington Monument, The Lincoln Memorial, and The Iwo Jima Memorial, as well as more obscure but worthy contenders such as The Maine Lobsterman and The Titanic Memorial.

Despite its popularity, the sculpture is only half of the monument, which remains as yet unfinished.  The plan for the second half of the monument is comprised of a bronze fire hydrant with water coming out of it that goes to a dish, so that dogs walking by will have a place to get a drink and chill out.  Donations to help complete the National Fire Dog Monument, and to support heroic arson dogs like Sadie and her colleagues, can be made through the American Humane Association.

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[Click on the thumbnails above to view the full size photos]

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Joseph Darlington Fountain

During today’s lunchtime bike ride I went by Judiciary Park, which is located at the corner of 5th and D Streets (MAP) in northwest D.C.’s Judiciary Square neighborhood. A small park located between the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, the focal point of the park is fountain featuring a gilded bronze statue. It is named the Darlington Memorial Fountain, and is a memorial to a lawyer named Joseph Darlington.

Joseph James Darlington was born on February 10, 1849, in Abbeville County, South Carolina, the third of four children born to Henry Dixson Darlington and Charlotte G. Blease. He came to D.C. as a young man to attend law school, where he lived for the rest of his life. He opened an office on 5th Street near where the memorial was later built, worked there for his entire career, eventually becoming known as a leader in the legal community, as well as a teacher and author.

Shortly after his death on June 24, 1920, friends and colleagues proposed to have a memorial built in his honor. Three years later, a committee was formed under Frank J. Hogan, who was named the head of the Darlington Memorial Committee. The duties of the committee, which consisted of approximately 100 people, some who were lawyers who had studied under Darlington was to take charge of the dedication of the memorial later that year.

The Darlington Memorial Fountain was designed by a German-born American sculptor named Carl Paul Jennewein. It was approved by the United States Commission of Fine Arts in 1921, and installed in November 1923. However, because it features a nude Greek nymph, the memorial’s statue caused a bit of public outrage when it was initially put on display. And that controversy has never really gone away. As late as July 3, 1988, a story in The Chicago Tribune reads, “The voluptuous nymph in Judiciary Square, honoring Joseph Darlington, one of Washington’s most prominent 19th Century lawyers, could easily grace the centerfold of Playboy.”

A prolific artist, Jennewein is also the sculptor responsible for a number of other statues in the D.C. area, including statues at the entrance to the Rayburn House Office Building, and monumental eagles at the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, and another on the Arlington Memorial Bridge. He also created more than 50 separate sculptural elements of the Robert F. Kennedy Justice Department Building, as well as a statue in the building’s Great Hall, named the Spirit of Justice. Like the statue in the Darlington Memorial Fountain, the Spirit of Justice has also been the source of public controversy.

The Spirit of Justice is a semi-nude depicting Lady Justice, which stands on display along with its male counterpart, Majesty of Justice. The statue and the controversy surrounding it first became well known with the help of Attorney General John Ashcroft in 2002. It was then that the department spent $8,000 on curtains to hide the semi-nude statue from view during speeches and other events. Critics derided then-Attorney General Ashcroft, and President George W. Bush’s administration received widespread criticism for covering up the naked Lady Justice. Ashcroft’s successor as Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, removed the curtains in June 2005, making the statue visible again during public events.

But the controversy resurfaced again last year when the Obama administration reversed that practice, and curtains are once again being used to hide the Spirit of Justice’s nudity from public view. So at this point in time, if you want to see one of Jennewein’s nude statues in D.C., your only current option is the Darlington Memorial Fountain.

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[Click on the thumbnails above to view the full size photos]

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The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial

Designated by President John F. Kennedy to be observed annually on May 15th, tomorrow is Peace Officers Memorial Day.  The Presidential proclamation also designates the week during which that date falls each year as National Police Week.  So in observance of this, today I rode by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, which is located in 400 block of E Street (MAP) in northwest D.C.’s Judiciary Square neighborhood.

Dedicated on October 15, 1991, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial honors Federal, state and local law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty, making the ultimate sacrifice for the safety and protection of our nation and its people. It features two curving, 304-foot-long blue-gray marble walls on which are carved the names of the officers who have been killed in the line of duty throughout U.S. history, dating back to the first known death of Constable Darius Quimby of the Albany County, New York, Constable’s Office, who was shot while making an arrest on January 3, 1791

Designed by architect Davis Buckley, the Memorial features a reflecting pool which is surrounded by walkways on either side of a three-acre park. Along the walkways are the walls on which are inscribed the names of the fallen law enforcement officers which the Memorial honors.

The Memorial also features four bronze sculptures depicting two male and two female lions, with each watching over a pair of lion cubs. The adult lions were sculpted by Raymond Kaskey, the cubs by George Carr. Below each lion is carved a different quotation, which read: “It is not how these officers died that made them heroes, it is how they lived.” – Vivian Eney Cross, Survivor; “In valor there is hope.” – Tacitus; “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” – Proverbs 28:1, and; a quote by President George H. W. Bush, which reads, “Carved on these walls is the story of America, of a continuing quest to preserve both democracy and decency, and to protect a national treasure that we call the American dream.”

Unlike many of the other memorials in the city, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial is ever-changing. That is because new names of fallen officers are added to the monument each spring, in conjunction with National Police Week. At the time it was dedicated, the names of over 12,000 fallen officers were engraved on the Memorial’s walls. Currently, there are 20,267 names on the Memorial, which in addition to local law enforcement officers also includes 1,092 Federal officers, as well as 633 correctional officers and 34 military law enforcement officers. These numbers include 280 female officers. There will be 117 more names being added to honor the officers who died in the line of duty in 2014. Sadly, this is a nine percent increase from 2013, when 107 officers were killed.

Although the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial sits on Federal land, it was constructed and is maintained with private funds, not taxpayer dollars. To learn even more about the memorial and the organization that maintains it, please visit the web site for The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.  And since the fund relies on the generosity of individuals, organizations and corporations to maintain the memorial and carry out the work of honoring and remembering our countey’s law enforcement heroes, please consider making a donation.

Please also take a moment before the end of National Police Week to remember all of the Federal, state and local law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the safety and protection of our nation, as well as the more than 900,000 sworn law enforcement officers currently serving throughout this country.

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[Click on the thumbnails above to view the full size photos]
 
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Monument to Cristoforo Columbo

There are a large number of official public monuments in the national capitol city which honor a wide range of historic figures. They include presidential monuments such as The Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial, as well as monuments to military leaders such as John Paul Jones, George B. McClellan and John Barry. There are also monuments and memorials to foreign leaders and dignitaries such as Winston Churchill of England, Robert Emmett of Ireland, Orlando Letelier of Chile, and Eleftherios Venizélos of Greece.  A variety of cultural and historic figures such as Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mahatma Gandhi also have monuments and memorials dedicated to them. There are even monuments to religious leaders such as Francis Asbury, James Gibbons, and John Carroll.  So with all the different types of monuments to all the different types of people, I was surprised to learn that there is no public monument in D.C. to the man who is widely credited with founding and colonizing America and the “New World” – Christopher Columbus.

I found out, however, that there is a private monument to Christopher Columbus.  The private monument, known as the Monument to Cristoforo Colombo, is located in the garden in the courtyard of Holy Rosary Church, located at 595 3rd Street (MAP) in northwest D.C.’s Judiciary Square neighborhood.  Christopher Columbus, as most Americans and English speaking people know him, is an Anglicization of his real name. He was born Cristoforo Colombo in Genoa, Italy.  Other languages have changed his name, too. He is known as Cristóbal Colón in Spanish, and Kristoffer Kolumbus in Swedish.

The Cristoforo Colombo Monument was a gift from the Lido Civic Club of D.C., which was established by Italian Americans in 1929 with the primary goal of assisting recent immigrants become assimilated into the ways of American business.  As Italian Americans in the D.C. area became more successful and affluent, the goals of the Club shifted towards more civic-minded activities that help not only Italian Americans but the D.C. area in general.

The plaque on the base of the monument reads, “This monument, erected on the occasion of the 1992 Quincentennial Jubilee celebrating the discovery of America, pays tribute to Cristoforo Colombo and his seafaring companions. Their bold voyage led to a historic encounter between the European world and the Americas. A turning point in Western Civilization, this event paved the way for the spreading of the Gospel and the establishment of a society anchored on the principles of Christian love and holiness. 1492 – 1992.”

Cristoforo Colombo was born in  in Genoa, Italy, in 1451, but later moved to Spain. It was in Spain, where he worked as a trader, that he got the idea that he could sail straight to China by crossing the Atlantic Ocean. As a trader he knew that there were great riches to be had in China and East Asia. However, traveling overland by the “Silk Road” was dangerous, and a sea route around Africa seemed much too long.  Like others during his lifetime, he believed that the world was formed mainly of one giant landmass consisting of Europe, Asia, and Africa.  That was mainly because these are the only continents mentioned in the Bible. They also believed that these continents were surrounded by one enormous body of water they called the Ocean Sea. It would turn out that Columbus was wrong. The Earth was much larger than was thought at the time, and there was another land mass between Europe and Asia – the Americas.

So what started out as a direct trip to China and East Asia which Colombo originally estimated to be approximately 2,400 miles, actually turned out to be a lot longer. Colombo’s calculations were only off by about 10,000 miles though.  And it wasn’t a direct route either.  Of course, there were already native people living in the Americas at the time. There even was a European, Leif Ericsson, who had been to the Americas before. However, it was Columbus’ voyage that started the exploration and colonization of this “New World.”

Interestingly, Columbo died thinking he had discovered a shortcut to Asia across the Atlantic Ocean, and never knew what an amazing discovery he had actually made.

It’s also interesting that the trip during which he “discovered” the Americas was not his last.  Columbo would eventually make three additional voyages to the Americas and back during his lifetime, and one more after his death.  After dying at the age of 55 in May of 1506, Columbo was buried in Valladolid, Spain.  His body was then moved to Seville.  Later, at the request of his daughter-in-law, the bodies of Columbo and his son Diego were shipped across the Atlantic to the island of Hispaniola, where they were interred in a Santo Domingo cathedral.  Centuries later, when the French captured the island, the Spanish dug up remains which they thought were his and moved them to Cuba.  They were then returned to Seville after the Spanish-American War.  However, a box with human remains and the explorer’s name was discovered inside the Santo Domingo cathedral in 1877, leading to speculation that the Spaniards exhumed the wrong body.  DNA testing in 2006 found evidence that at least some of the remains in Seville are those of Columbo.  But the Dominican Republic has refused to let the other remains be tested.  So it could be that, aptly, pieces of Columbo are both in the Old World and the New World.

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