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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
Club Notice - 01/08/99 -- Vol. 17, No. 28
Table of Contents
MT Chair/Librarian: Mark Leeper MT 3E-433 732-957-5619 email@example.com HO Chair: John Jetzt MT 2E-530 732-957-5087 firstname.lastname@example.org HO Librarian: Nick Sauer HO 4F-427 732-949-7076 email@example.com Distinguished Heinlein Apologist: Rob Mitchell MT 2E-537 732-957-6330 firstname.lastname@example.org Factotum: Evelyn Leeper MT 3E-433 732-957-2070 email@example.com Back issues at http://www.geocities.com/evelynleeper. All material copyright by author unless otherwise noted.
URL of the Week: http://lit-arts.com/bpaul/shake.htm. No science fictional connections, but a list of all book/poem titles derived from Shakespeare. (Well, I thought it was interesting.) [-ecl]
Monumnets: A guest editorial by Evelyn Leeper:
While I was in Virginia for a class recently, I took the Metro into Washington one evening after class and did some sight-seeing--less than usual, it is to be admitted, since sundown was at 4:40 PM and I got into the city about 5 PM. There was just enough light in the sky for me to determine which direction was west and orient myself (so to speak) on leaving the Metro station.
My first stop was the Lincoln Memorial. This was built during a Classical revival and resembles classic Greek and Roman temples, complete with Doric columns and godlike statue in marble. Its religious atmosphere is even more pronounced in the evening, when it is not full of crowds of people talking or listening to guides explaining it. It is at this time that the nature of the America's "civic religion" is clearest--it has its sacred writings (the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, etc.), and its houses of worship (and one imagines, its corresponding saints, though several have fallen of late).
From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial one can see the Reflecting Pool and the Washington Monument. Of the latter, much has been written of its symbolism, but currently it is wrapped in scaffolding and looks like nothing so much as a rocket gantry-- perhaps a reasonable symbol for the new century/millennium coming up. Even the Reflecting Pool is a "sacred spot" of sorts, being the site of so many historic demonstrations and rallies.
Between the Lincoln Memorial and the Reflecting Pool is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. This is a complete departure from the Classical style of the Lincoln Memorial. It is also very hard to find at night, since it is below the level of the surrounding ground. Though it is moving even at night, I suspect this memorial should be seen during the day with other people there to be understood. (The fact that the dim lighting makes it very difficult to read the names at night certainly contributes to the problem.)
Because of the radically different style of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial from memorials up to that time, there are two more traditional statue groupings as adjuncts of it, one of three soldiers, and another of three nurses and a wounded (dying?) soldier. The last is so evocative of Michelangelo's Pieta as to be almost cliche, and as a result emphasizes the more original (and thoughtful) nature of the main memorial.
I can't claim to have gotten a good view of the Korean Veterans Memorial either, since it is equally low-lit. This has a wall similar to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, but with faces of GIs engraved on it (presumably not specific faces, but generic ones), and also statues of about two dozen soldiers on patrol. These are not a single unit, but separate statues spread out over a lawn- sized area, which makes them seem less anonymous and more individual than a single statue (such as the Iwo Jima monument) would.
Walking part way around the Tidal Basin one comes to the FDR Memorial, the newest memorial in this area. I had thought there was a statue of him in a wheelchair, but I guess that is just in the planning stage, since I didn't see it. This memorial is also in a more innovative style than classic memorials, being a large space that one walks through. Of course, as with many memorials, there was a certain irony to some of the words carved there: "We must scrupulously guard the civil rights and civil liberties of all citizens, whatever their background. We must remember that any oppression, any injustice, any hatred, is a wedge designed to attack our civilization." This was said in 1940 in an address to the American Committee for Protection of the Foreign Born; on February 19, 1942, Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, putting all American citizens of Japanese ancestry in the western United States into internment camps, and also imposing restrictions on resident aliens of Italian and German ancestry in that area as well.
And finally, even further around the Tidal Basin, is the Jefferson Memorial. This is back in the more traditional "Greek temple" style, with Ionic columns and so on, and noble sentiments such as "God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are a gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever. Commerce between master and slave is despotism. Nothing is more certainty written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free." Well, we all know about that one.
And one more note: though I did all this walking after dark (between 5:30 and 7:30) and in an area at times not brilliantly lit, it appeared to be perfectly safe. There were quite a few people jogging, bicycle riding, walking, and so on. And the Park Ranger I asked assured me it was safe to walk around this area at this time. So while I'm sure not all of Washington is safe all the time, reports of the dangers there are probably somewhat overstated. [-ecl]
Mark Leeper MT 3E-433 732-957-5619 firstname.lastname@example.org
Quote of the Week:
In reality, there is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself; you will see it, perhaps, often in this history; for, even if I could conceive that I had compleatly overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Autobiography", Chapter 8