Constitution Gardens, Washington D.C.
The Constitution Gardens were established in the 1970s to commemorate the 200th aniversary of the American Revolution. They cover about 50 acres and are home to several memorials. The gardens feature a small pound, at the center of which there is a small island that can be reached by crossing a wooden bridge. This island is home to a memorial that pays tribute to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial can also be found in this area. The sober memorial takes on the shape of a black wall that lists all the names (over 58,000) of American soldiers who died in this war. The names are listed in chronological order (from 1959 to 1975) and there are registries available to help people find family members. I thought it was quite moving to see parents with young children, perhaps looking for the name of a lost uncle or grand-father...
Two more memorials very impressive memorials can be seen in the area: the Korean War Veterans Memorial and the World War II Memorial. The first features a group of 19 stainless steel statues dispersed among bushes, representing a squad on patrol. The effect is quite moving, as are the words "Freedom Is Not Free", written on a granite wall. As for the National WWII Memorial, it lies at the eastern end of the Reflecting Pool and consists of 56 columns representing each of the American states and territories. They are placed around the oval-shaped Raibow Pool, which features a fountain in its center. Although there is a wall lined with 4000 golden stars paying tribute to soldiers who died during the war, the overall effect is more like a celebration of a war that was won.
Directions: National Mall
Constitution Gardens is a small park north of the Reflecting Pool and the WWII Memorial. The park centers around a small pond, where you'll often find ducks and other ornithological life. In the middle of the pond, there is an island with a memorial honoring the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence; this island can only be accessed from the northern side of the pond. From various viewpoints, you can see the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. To the north you can see the Federal Reserve Building. This is a nice little area for a stroll.
Directions: Metro Stop: Smithsonian. West of the Washington Monument, south of Constitution Ave.
In 1976, during the Bicentennial, this new monument was unveiled. It pays homage to the 56 brave souls who signed the Declaration of Independence in 1976. It contains each man's name and a facsimile of his signature, etched in a granite block.
A rather quiet place, with relatively few visitors, it's on a small island in the middle of a lake. You can cross onto the island by a wooden bridge, from the north side of the lake. The island also affords excellent views of Constitution Gardens.
Directions: In Constitution Gardens. It's north of the Reflecting Pool, and east of the Vietnam Memorial. Points of contact are for the National Park Service.
Phone: (202) 426-6841