Posts Tagged ‘National World War II Memorial’

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David’s Tent

Over the years as I have been riding a bike during my lunch breaks at work, I have periodically seen a large white tent erected in different parts of the downtown area of the city.  On it’s side there has been a sign which reads, “davidstent.dc.org“.  I first saw it about four years ago in President’s Park on The Ellipse near The White House.  Since that time I have intermittently seen it near John Marshal Place Park just off Constitution Avenue, as well as various other sites.  It is currently located on the National Mall just east of the pond in Constitution Gardens and about 100 yards due north of the National World War II Memorial (MAP), and within view of the White House.  On this ride I stopped in to learn more about it.

Jason Hershey founded David’s Tent DC in 2012 as a non-denominational Christian non-profit organization dedicated to performing public worship services.  That first year a service was to be held in the park at McPherson Square, but at the suggestion of the National Park Service it was moved to The Ellipse instead.  And although the Park Service had never given a permit for more than 14 days in that area, they granted David’s Tent a 45-day permit.  So it was that David’s Tent began with 40 days of continuous worship and praise.

When the organization decided to hold another event the following year, it again was located on The Ellipse.  However, that year the Federal government shut down due to the fact that no budget had been passed.  And in addition to closing most Federal departments and agencies, the first things to close were the National Parks, including the National Mall and The Ellipse.  I vividly remember during that time the news stories of attempts to keep World War II veterans from being allowed to visit the closed memorial that had been made to honor them.  Amazingly though, David’s Tent was allowed to continue uninterrupted.  That year they did it again for 42 days, which equates to being 1,000 hours long.

David’s Tent has continued ever year, and gotten bigger and longer in each consecutive year.  In 2014, the service was extended to 50 days, during which they prayed for each state for one day.

This time is the organization’s most ambitious event to date.  The tent was pitched in its current location last September 11th, and David’s Tent is committed to performing nonstop worship music on the National Mall for 14 months straight, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, until Election Day this November.  This weekend, they will reach the one year mark on their way to the goal of a 422-day worship service.  Hershey, the founder of David’s Tent, says there’s no political agenda behind the vigil despite its significant start and end dates, and its notable location in the heart of our nation’s capital.

David’s Tent is inspired by the biblical story of King David, who pitched a tent near his palace and hired more than 4,000 musicians and 288 singers to worship there continually throughout his 33-year reign. David made worship central for his nation, and it is said to have brought blessing on the whole nation. David’s Tent DC is attempting to do the same here in America.  So if you’re in downtown D.C. during the next few months, I encourage you to stop in, learn more, and participate.

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Honor Flight Veterans

On this Pre-Memorial Day weekend bike ride, as I was riding through the plaza in front of the The Lincoln Memorial (MAP), I noticed a number of people who were all wearing matching yellow T-shirts gathered on the steps of the memorial.  It turns out they were all U.S. military veterans, and they were brought to D.C. by the Honor Flight Network.

The Honor Flight Network is a coalition of non-profit organizations dedicated to transporting as many military veterans as possible to D.C., at no cost to the veterans, to visit and reflect at the national memorials to the respective wars in which they fought.   Top priority is given to bringing veterans of World War II to The National World War II Memorial, as well as any veteran with a terminal illness.  The veterans are generally escorted by volunteer guardians, who assist them on their flights and while they are here in D.C.

Some of the veterans I saw today were World War II veterans, many of them in wheelchairs, like the ones I saw a couple of years ago at an impromptu parade.  Others served during the Korean and Vietnam wars.  The veterans had just been dropped off by buses, and were conducting a brief prayer service on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial before visiting The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall and The Korean War Veterans Memorial, and then moving on to the World War II Memorial.

Although the upcoming Memorial Day holiday is for remembering the military members who died while serving in our country’s armed forces, witnessing this inspiring and moving event involving surviving veterans was a good beginning to the holiday weekend.

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The National World War II Memorial

The National World War II Memorial

On this day in 1944, approximately 100,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of the heavily-fortified beaches of Normandy, France, while an additional 150,000 personnel were concurrently coming across the English Channel by sea and air, to fight Nazi Germany and “The Axis of Evil.”  The Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, originally picked June 5, 1944, as the date for the largest military invasion in history, code-named “Operation Overlord,” but bad weather forced a postponement.  After meteorologists told him that the weather would clear the next day, the invasion was on.  As it turned out, however, the weather was nearly as bad during the attack on June 6th.

General Eisenhower described the operation as a crusade in which “we will accept nothing less than full victory.”  More than 5,000 Ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the invasion, and by day’s end on June 6th, the Allies had gained a foot- hold in Normandy.  However, the cost was extremely high, with more than 9,000 Allied soldiers killed or wounded.  But the success of Operation Overlord, which would also come to me know as “D-Day,” was the beginning of the end of World War II, and the evil that was Nazi Germany.

I did not have adequate time during my lunchtime bike ride to go to The National D-Day Memorial, because it is located a couple of hundred miles away in the small, rural town of Bedford, Virginia.  Proportionally, Bedford suffered America’s severest D-Day losses.  Recognizing Bedford as symbolic of all communities, large and small, whose citizen-soldiers served and sacrificed on D-Day, Congress approved the placement of The National D-Day Memorial there.

So for this ride, I instead chose to commemorate the anniversary of this event by riding to and writing about the U.S. National World War II Memorial, which is located on the National Mall in D.C., on the former site of the Rainbow Pool at the eastern end of the Reflecting Pool, between The Lincoln Memorial and The Washington Monument (MAP).  The National World War II Memorial is dedicated to Americans who served in the military, and to civilians, for the various services and sacrifices made during World War II.

The design of the Memorial consists granite pillars arranged around a plaza and fountain, with two arches located on the northern and southern ends of the plaza.  Each of the 56 pillars is inscribed with the name of one of the then 48 states in the United States, as well as the District of Columbia, the Alaska and Hawaii territories, and the commonwealths of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  The northern arch is inscribed with “Atlantic” and the southern one with “Pacific,” representing the two fronts of the war.

The meaning of the memorial to honor members of “The Greatest Generation” is best summed up by the inscription at the main entrance to the Memorial, which reads:  “Here in the presence of Washington and Lincoln, one the eighteenth century father and the other the nineteenth century preserver of our nation, we honor those twentieth century Americans who took up the struggle during the second world war and made the sacrifices to perpetuate the gift our forefathers entrusted to us: a nation conceived in liberty and justice.”

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The Lock Keepers House

The Lock Keepers House

Down the street from the National World War II Memorial and in the shadow of The Washington Monument stands a small stone house.  Located on the National Mall at the corner of 17th Street and Constitution Avenue (MAP), the Lock Keeper’s House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, yet is often overlooked despite being centrally located and very accessiblr.

Many years ago, the downtown area of the Capitol city had a series of canals.  The original plan for D.C. included a system of waterways to transport heavy goods at a time when roads and streets were few and muddy.  The first, the Washington City Canal, was opened in 1815.  Construction began in 1828 on the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal, to connect D.C. to the fertile Ohio Valley.  The Washington Branch of the C&O Canal, built by 1833, joined the two waterways and opened the city to commerce.

However, the Canal ventures proved to be an expensive investment. The Washington Branch of the C&O Canal and the Washington City Canal carried so little commerce that they were abandoned 30 years after construction when railroads, not canals, dominated transportation in the nineteenth century.   In the 1870s the long process of filling these canals began.  What is left of the western branch of the C & O Canal way is now maintained as part of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, with a linear trail following the old towpath.

On a recent bike ride I went by some of the remaining vestiges of that time, including the Lock Keeper’s House .  It is the only remnant of the D.C. branch of the C & O Canal.  The building was constructed as the house for the lock keeper of the Canal, who collected the tolls and kept records of commerce on the canal.  The house was abandoned in 1855.

It has had a varied history since then.  After falling into disrepair, the building was partially renovated in 1903, and used as Park Police headquarters. In 1940, the first floor of the building was used as rest rooms.  The interior was subsequently closed to the public and remains closed at this time.  But the exterior is certainly worth a visit.

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An Impromptu Parade for World War II Veterans

An Impromptu Parade for World War II Veterans

You just never know what you’re going to run across when you’re riding a bike around D.C.  Because it is such a unique city, there are opportunities to see so much.  In addition to the monuments and museums and other fixtures, our national’s capitol also offers events that are unique to the city as well.

One such unique event occurred recently as I was riding past the National World War II Memorial.  As I was riding near the memoriaI I noticed the arrival of a busload of World War II veterans, who were brought to see their memorial by the Honor Flight Network.  Founded as a non-profit organization and created solely to honor America’s veterans for all their sacrifices, the Honor Flight Network transports our military heroes to D.C. to visit and reflect at their memorials.  Top priority is given to the senior veterans – World War II survivors, along with those other veterans who may be terminally ill.

As the veterans departed the bus this morning and entered the World War II Memorial, many in wheelchairs, the other visitors to the Memorial, myself included, cleared a path.  We then stood on the side of the walkway and applauded in an impromptu ceremony as the veterans made their way into the Memorial.  It was an inspiring and moving moment.

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