Recently, I traveled to Washington D.C. for five days to shoot an assignment for a client in Kansas City, Missouri. I didn’t have much time for sightseeing so I viewed many of the famous landmarks and monuments of our country’s capital city through the windshield of my rental car.
However, on my last day in D.C., I woke up at 5am and drove to the National Mall to visit the Lincoln Memorial before I headed off to work. I parked near the Washington Monument, slipped on my photo backpack, and walked one mile west along the Reflecting Pool to the Memorial.
I arrived just after 6am and found myself alone inside the Greek temple except for a few joggers who were using the exterior main steps as part of their morning workout. It was humbling to stand in silence at the base of the 19-foot white marble statue and honor the legacy of our 16th president in which he abolished slavery and preserved the Union through the American Civil War.
The Lincoln Memorial is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and approximately 6 million people annually visit the site. Now, it’s closed to tourists like other nearby monuments, including the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Korean Veterans Memorial, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, because of the U.S. government shutdown on October 1, 2013.
When the government shuts down, many federal agencies such as the National Park Service, which administers the monuments in Washington D.C., also shut down. Nearly 22,000 of 25,000 NPS employees were furloughed, or placed on unpaid leave from their jobs, on October 1. Ironically, the members of Congress who shut down the government, continue to receive their paychecks.
Hopefully, the government can be reopened soon so people can return to work and visitors to these national landmarks can view these inspiring monuments instead of seeing barricades.