Posts Tagged ‘President George H. W. Bush’

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Mama Ayesha and the Presidents

During this lunchtime bike ride as I was riding across the Duke Ellington Memorial Bridge in northwest D.C.’s Adam’s Morgan neighborhood, I saw a mural on the side of a building on the eastern end of the bridge.  So I rode over to get a better look at the mural.  I discovered it was on the side of Mama Ayesha’s Restaurant, located at 1967 Calvert Street (MAP), and depicts the restaurant’s namesake standing in front of The White House.  She is flanked on either side by eleven different presidents standing in chronological order, starting with Dwight D. Eisenhower and ending with Barack Obama. The content of the public artwork is so unusual that I just had to find out more about it.

The mural was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and private donors.  It was created in 2009 by Karla Rodas, also known as Karlísima, who is a native of El Salvador but moved with her family as a child to nearby Alexandria.  After graduating from Annandale High School and Washington University, she returned to D.C. and has since become one of the capital city’s most well-known and respected muralists.

The initial concept for the mural was planned by Mama Ayesha’s family members, who have run the restaurant since its opening in 1960. However, the original plan did not have Mama Ayesha as the centerpiece of the work. Instead, the family wanted Helen Thomas, a renowned White House reporter and regular customer at the restaurant, to be at the center of the mural. She was envisioned to be seated at a desk with pen and paper in her hand. However, Thomas politely declined the family’s request, opining that Mama Ayesha should be portrayed instead.

The final design depicts Mama Ayesha in traditional Palestinian garb standing in front of the White House. With six presidents on her right and five on her left, she stands in the middle between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, with their arms interlocked. Interspersed throughout the mural are other symbols and additional scenes and landmarks from the national capital city. They include a bald eagle, the city’s famous cherry blossoms, as well as the Lincoln Memorial and its Reflecting Pool, the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument and the United States Capitol Building.  And representations of the U.S. flag appear on the sides of the painting.

With President Obama’s successor to be determined in tomorrow’s election, I hope the mural will be updated.  There is sufficient space in front of the Reflecting Pool for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.  I very much look forward to the election being over.  And I also look forward to being able to come back to see the updated mural at some point in the near future.

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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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