Washington's Monument, February, 1885
By Walt Whitman
Ah, not this marble, dead and cold:
Far from its base and shaft expanding—the round zones circling,
Thou, Washington, art all the world's, the continents' entire—
not yours alone, America,
Europe's as well, in every part, castle of lord or laborer's cot,
Or frozen North, or sultry South—the African's—the Arab's in
Old Asia's there with venerable smile, seated amid her ruins;
(Greets the antique the hero new? 'tis but the same—the heir
legitimate, continued ever,
The indomitable heart and arm—proofs of the never-broken
Courage, alertness, patience, faith, the same—e'en in defeat
defeated not, the same:)
Wherever sails a ship, or house is built on land, or day or night,
Through teeming cities' streets, indoors or out, factories or farms,
Now, or to come, or past—where patriot wills existed or exist,
Wherever Freedom, pois'd by Toleration, sway'd by Law,
Stands or is rising thy true monument.
That poem is not about the Washington Monument I visited today, but considering that Walt had a brother named George Washington Whitman I figured it was appropriate anyway. After a quiet morning during which I made PDF files containing the images of my Tarot decks so I can keep them on my Kindle while Adam went to study for his finals with friends, we went to the George Washington Masonic Memorial, which we have been talking about doing for years -- we always see it when we drive into or past Alexandria and after The Last Symbol came out (the memorial appears in it) we said oh, we really should get over there, but it took us till now to do so. The main floor is a lot like the main floor of the Scottish Rite Temple downtown -- lots of marble and huge pillars, and several other floors have reproductions of thrones and items from the Temple of Solomon and the Crusades -- but the lower and middle floors are devoted to George Washington and his history as a Mason, and the ninth floor has an observation deck with spectacular views of Washington, DC.
Both sides of the Memorial Hall feature murals; this one shows Washington in Masonic regalia, which he actually wore, laying the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol.
This room is a replica of the original Alexandria Lodge. The chair under plastic in the back, beneath the painting of Washington, was brought by Washington himself, possibly because he was too tall to fit comfortably into the tavern chairs!
The memorial has Masonic souvenirs of Washington like this scrimshaw illustration of him on a whale's tooth...
...and a lock of his hair purportedly taken from his corpse by one of the people who interred him.
There are many statues of Washington inside the memorial in front of painted scenes from his life, such as this one of Mount Vernon.
The view from the top of the memorial is gorgeous. Here are the Washington Monument and Capitol, the two tallest buildings facing across the Potomac River from this part of Alexandria.
And the view of the front of the memorial at street level is gorgeous too.
I went out to the mall in the early evening because I wanted to get one of the free new Brighton bracelets before the latest promotion ended -- last time they ran out quickly -- then we had shish kebabs and watched the NFL playoffs. All I really cared about was that I not have to hear about how much God loves Tim Tebow again, so even though I'm not particularly a fan of the Patriots, I am delighted that God apparently is. I'm sorry New Orleans didn't win but I like San Francisco well enough, and in any case I hoped to be rooting for the Packers next weekend against the victor. Tomorrow I will be rooting for the Ravens but we will be in Ellicott City with my in-laws, so I am hoping that our usual luck in following their games via mobile holds -- I must confess that my TV priority on Sunday is to watch the Golden Globe Awards with dementordelta!