Celebrate July Fourth On The National Mall

Fireworks over the National MallIf you’re looking for a unique and fun way to celebrate Independence Day today, and you’re fortunate enough to live close to Washington D.C., you may want to drop by the National Mall to take part in the annual festivities. The iconic monuments and memorials that make up the Mall should make for an inspiring backdrop to a full day of events.

Among the more memorable attractions on the National Mall are the Washington Monument and the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. The three presidents to which those sites are dedicated all played a vital role in forging the U.S. as a nation and today they will each be remembered for their leadership.

Activities on the Mall begin with a parade along Constitution Avenue that gets underway at 11:45 a.m. and runs through 2 p.m. Following the parade a group of park rangers will gather at the Jefferson Memorial where they’ll present a portrayal of life in America circa 1776. The nearby Sylvan Theater will play host to activities for the Junior Rangers from 3-8:30 p.m. and a live concert featuring the U.S. Army Band will begin at 6 p.m. Each of these activities will help set the stage for the impressive fireworks display that will take place between 9:10-9:30 p.m.

Directions to the Mall can be found on the NPS website and visitors are encouraged to arrive early. There are no entrance fees to any of the events or monuments and it is sure to be both a fun and educational way to celebrate the occasion.

Happy Independence Day!

[Photo credit: Leafsfan67 via WikiMedia]

Capital Bikeshare stations could be coming to the National Mall

Capital Bikeshare stations could be added to the national mallAnyone who has ever visited the National Mall in Washington, D.C. knows just how congested with traffic the area can be at times. In addition to the usual day-to-day commuters, of which there are plenty, there are always a large number of tourists milling about as well. Travelers often make the pilgrimage to visit the Washington and Lincoln Monuments, along with the host of other attractions that make up the Mall, and frequent traffic snarls can be the result. Now, the National Park Service has come up with a novel plan to help alleviate some of that traffic however, proposing the addition of Capital Bikeshare Stations throughout the area.

The Capital Bikeshare program has become a popular one in Washington, where 110 stations, with 1100 bikes, are spread out across the city. The service offers membership rates of just $7 per day, with additional options of 3 days ($15), 30 days ($25), or a full year ($75). The stations are well placed to allow drivers to park their cars for the day and use a bike to commute from point to point as needed. Until now however, the stations haven’t been allowed on land that is managed by the Park Service, so their addition to the Mall would be a benefit to a new audience.

The NPS has proposed adding the stations to five locations throughout the Mall, providing easy access to the bikes at all times. Those locations would include the Smithsonian Metro Station, as well as the Lincoln, Jefferson, Washington, and FDR/MLK Monuments. The Park Service proposal says that those locations were selected due to their proximity to popular destinations on the Mall, as well as their access to local bike trails and other forms of transportation like the Metro rail.

As of now, adding the bikeshare stations is not a done deal, and the NPS is seeking input from the public concerning the matter. Personally, I think it would make for a great inclusion to the National Mall, but others may not agree. You can let your opinion be known by leaving a comment here.

Photos: The new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial in Washington, DC Although the formal dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial in Washington, DC, is not until August 28 (as we indicated in this post last week), the memorial officially opened on Monday. I was among the hundreds of tourists and locals that visited the new MLK Memorial and below are some photos I took of the site.

To give you a sense of what you will be looking at, the King Memorial is situated between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials on four acres of the National Mall overlooking the Tidal Basin. One enters the King Memorial through a “mountain of despair,” symbolism mentioned in Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech:

“With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.”

Beyond the mountain of despair lies the “stone of hope,” from which a 30-foot marble statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. emerges. Surrounding the central statue of Dr. King are low, granite walls inscribed with 14 quotes from Dr. King’s speeches.

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First look at the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in DC

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial On August 28, 48 years to the day that Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his legendary “I Have a Dream” speech, the nation’s capital will dedicate a memorial to him on the National Mall. The Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial will be the first memorial on the Mall dedicated to an African-American and the first solo memorial for a non-president.

The MLK Memorial is located on four acres on the Tidal Basin, site of Washington’s famous Japanese cherry trees, and sits within a “line of leadership” between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. The line ties Dr. King to President Lincoln, author of the Emancipation Proclamation and on whose memorial Dr. King gave his “Dream” speech, and Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence. “Peace” and “independence” are two of the main themes of the MLK Memorial, even down to the Memorial’s official address. The street number in the address 1964 Independence Ave, SW, Washington, DC 20024 refers to the Civil Right’s Act of 1964.

Although it does not open for another week, would-be visitors can watch the construction cam to watch workers put the finishing touches on the King Memorial. The video below also provides more information about the memorial, its location, design, and landscaping.




[Photo credit www.mlkmemorial.org]

Spend Independence Day in a national park

Celebrate Independence Day in the National ParksThe Fourth of July holiday has always been a popular one in the U.S. This coming weekend, millions of people across the country will gather with friends and family to celebrate the day our country won its independence with food, music, and fireworks. It is a tradition like no other, and one that is made all the better when combined with another great American tradition – the national parks.

With the three-day holiday weekend nearly upon us, the National Park Service has a number of activities planned across the entire park system. For instance, Valley Forge National Park will play host to the annual community picnic, which features plenty of hamburgers and hotdogs, arts and crafts for the kids, Revolutionary War reenactors, and a reading of the Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson himself. Festivities get underway at 11 AM and run throughout the afternoon.

Similarly, Adams National Historical Park in Massachusetts has a full schedule of events planned for July 4th as well. Things will get underway at 1 PM with storyteller William Hogeland sharing the tale of how the Declaration of Independence was drafted and eventually signed. Later in the afternoon, visitors will have the opportunity to join the second Continental Congress itself and take part in the drafting of that document themselves. Finally, the evening will wrap up with a dramatic re-telling of the friendship of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. A friendship that not only withstood the test of time, but would also help forge a nation.Visitors to Mt. Rushmore will have two days to take in that park’s annual celebration, which is always amongst the best in the entire park system. Starting on Sunday, July 3rd and running through the 4th, there will be a variety of live music, and presidential reenactors wandering the park. On Sunday evening the U.S. Air Force will also conduct several dramatic flyovers, including a B-1 bomber. Other events include a flag folding ceremony, a salute to veterans, a military swearing in ceremony, and more.

Those looking for the ultimate in fireworks displays, should plan on dropping by the National Mall in Washington DC. Those that beat the rush, and get there early in the day, can claim one of the better viewing spots near the reflecting pool, and where the fireworks are launched on the evening of the 4th. Starting just after 9 PM, the night sky will explode in spectacular colors, illuminating the Lincoln and Washington Memorials, as well as the Capitol Building itself. It is truly a patriotic sight to behold.

There are, of course, plenty of other parks that are holding their own celebrations as well. Checkout the National Park Service website for more details on what is happening in your area, and start making plans to celebrate Independence Day 2011 in your favorite national park.

[Photo credit: UpstateNYer via WikiMedia Commons]