What’s An Appropriate Penalty For Defacing The Lincoln Memorial?

Lincoln Memorial Vandalized

The Lincoln Memorial was closed early Friday morning after police discovered that someone had splashed green paint on the iconic 19-foot tall statue shortly before 1:30 a.m. A National Park Service spokesperson said that there appeared to be no permanent damage to the statue. The memorial’s portico reopened this afternoon after the cleanup was complete.

Honest Abe is a beloved national hero. Historians consistently rank him as one of our best presidents, and the Lincoln Memorial holds an important place in American history as the site where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. The online reaction to the brazen act of vandalism ranged from despair to anger to disbelief.”There’s not many things left in the country that could be considered sacrosanct..but this would have to have been one of the few,” wrote one Huffington Post reader. “Shame on whoever did this.”

CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin said on air that the defacement “made her furious.” Chelsea Clinton, daughter of Bill and Hillary, tweeted that it was “very upsetting” using the hashtag #Protectthemall.

“Unreal! What is happening to this country?” tweeted Shari Starkey. And @Trinaelephant tweeted, “Someone vandalized the Lincoln Memorial? Here’s an idea. You don’t like the country, then LEAVE.”

I used to live and work in Washington, D.C. and the Lincoln Memorial was one of my favorite places to take visitors or to visit alone, especially late at night when few tourists are around. Police say they are reviewing surveillance footage to determine who committed the crime and I pray that the perpetrator or perpetrators of this senseless act of vandalism are caught and given swift, harsh justice.

Vandalism is typically a crime that merits just a slap on the wrist, but I hope the perpetrators do some time. Perhaps a little time behind bars would give them an opportunity to brush up on their American history. What do you think is an appropriate punishment for defacing this cherished memorial?

The Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail Officially Opens

Ft. McHenry along the Star Spangled Banner National Historic TrailThe Star Spangled Banner Historical Trail officially opened last week, marking the bicentennial of the War of 1812. The trail, which was established back in 2008, features 560 miles of land and water routes that trace the major events of the war as it played out across Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Dozens of markers along the trail’s length help tell the story of the conflict, which included the Battle of Baltimore the inspiration for Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The song would later go on to be named America’s national anthem.

More information on the new trail can be found at its official website, which provides historical context for much of the route and a map of the trail itself. The site also provides suggestions for things to do while traveling along the trail such as visiting Fort McHenry National Monument, exploring a museum or paddling one of several water trails.


I Spy a Museum

The NY Times had a fun piece by a former CIA case officer, in which she talks about visiting various spy museums. He went to NSA’s National Cryptologic Museum in Fort Meade, MD, and the International Spy Museum in DC.

Having visited the International Spy Museum myself, she describes the experience well, while adding in little tidbits about her experiences with the CIA in Eastern Europe in the 1990s. They showcase various disguises and old spy technology and allow you to do a little play-acting, by assuming an identity. And for Bond lovers, there’s even a fully-decked Bond Aston Martin DB5. And don’t pass up the chance to buy your own night-vision goggles in the gift shop. It’s fun kitsch.

Then, she was off to true geek-land: the Cryptologic Museum, rarely visited and free and open to the public. She said the best part was listening to stories told by the retiree volunteers who manned the place. There, you can even see the Enigma machine.

She’s also written a book: Blowing My Cover: My Life as a CIA Spy (by Lindsay Moran), which I’ll be looking for in the store.