Washington is full of Memorials for past presidents and powerful leaders. These monuments speak volumes about the character and tenacity of the leaders who shaped the destiny of the US and to some extent the world.
Well known and less-known facts about few US Presidents
George Washington – First President of the United States. The only president in American history to be elected by unanimous approval. He was considered to be a man of great personal integrity, with a deep sense of duty, honour, and patriotism. The US was a small nation with 11 states and approximately 4 million people when Washington took office. He was so strong that he could crack walnut shells between his thumb and forefinger. The US now is a nation with 50 states and a current population of 328 million people.
Abraham Lincoln – The failures, defeats, and adversities of his early life were transmuted into a degree of intelligence. Lincoln had that rare trait to turn on more will power instead of quitting when the going was hard. We visited Lincoln’s memorial in the morning, soon after we reached the Union Station and again at dusk with a tour group. I was amazed by the number of people who visited this memorial. People from all walks of life made a pilgrimage to this site regularly.
Franklin Roosevelt/Eleanor Roosevelt – When Franklin Roosevelt contracted polio, it looked as though his political career was over. His legs were paralysed and never walked again. He was a fighter who never complained about his physical condition and worked hard to serve his country. It has been said that his wife Eleanor Roosevelt was his eyes and ears throughout his political career. People may have had Franklin Roosevelt’s picture on their wall, but Eleanor Roosevelt visited their homes to understand their problems.
Thomas Jefferson – He was a draftsman of the Declaration of Independence and the 3rd U.S President. He sold his collection of around 6,000 books to the Government to inaugurate the Library of Congress. The Library that stands today is a colossal treasure of rare and valuable books. The Library is the living proof of the intellectual capacity of a man that Jefferson was. I cannot imagine any single individual could have a collected so many books so long ago.
John Kennedy – Very charismatic leader, who had a vision for advancement in science, especially that Americans should land on the moon. His famous quote to the American people, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country”.
Martin Luther King – He said that “Shallow Understanding is worse than Misunderstanding”. He donated his Noble Peace Prize money to the Civil Rights movement. His famous freedom speech “I have a dream” had a powerful effect on people’s lives. As a Baptist Minister and Activist, he had delivered powerful speeches. Some of his famous quotes appear in the memorial.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
I visited a few countries in Europe and Asia before I visited the US. The respect and homage people pay for their past presidents and leaders are not found anywhere in the world. Monuments in Washington are the testament of this fact.Visitors take pride in paying tribute to the leaders in large numbers, honour and remember them for the sacrifices they made to build this wonderful nation.