I recently took a trip to Washington, D.C. As part of the trip, I took a tour of the city’s many monuments and memorials. I was absolutely appalled by the behavior of some of the younger set that I witnessed during the tour.
One of our stops was at the memorial to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In the middle of it is a larger-than-life statue of FDR and his dog, Fala. Several kids wanted their picture taken with the “cute doggie”. OK, understandable. I walked on.
It was when I passed by again that my jaw truly dropped. Children were swarming the FDR statue, literally climbing all over it. One boy was hanging from FDR’s outstretched hand. Were any parents pulling them back? No, they were taking photos! I was disgusted. Not only could they potentially damage the statue, it was just downright disrespectful. This was a memorial, not a jungle gym. I couldn’t watch anymore, and returned to the tour bus.
Our next stop was the newly-opened Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial. It had just been dedicated that week, and I was anxious to see it. When I got there, the first thing I heard was excited screaming. A large group of girls around 12 years old were trying to get into formation for a photo in front of the towering statue of Dr. King, and they were shrieking and giggling like they were in line at a Justin Bieber concert. Worse yet, the curved shape and granite walls of the memorial meant the screaming echoed … a lot. It would be impossible way to quietly contemplate the memorial the way I had hoped to. Thankfully, a D.C. Parks Police officer spoke to the group’s chaperone, who yelled at the girls that this was a memorial and they needed to be quiet and respectful. Why it took a police officer talking to her for her to realize this, I do not know.
After the group settled down and I got in my quiet contemplation (it really is an awe-inspiring memorial), I went up to the police officer and thanked him for quieting the group. He shook his head and said he sees this behavior all the time. I shuddered to think of it happening at one of the war memorials – where there’s a good possibility of some of the deceased’s loved ones being there – or at Arlington National Cemetery, which is both a historic site and a place where military funerals are held on a regular basis. The police officer told me there are YouTube videos of the guards at Arlington’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier scolding spectators who show disrespect. I looked and was saddened to see just how many videos there are.
It’s a real shame that people seem to think any outdoor site is meant to be a play park. 1024-11
And here is one of those youtube videos of the guard sternly reprimanding the crowd…
I am sure there are people who will wring their hands claiming that the guard was oh so rude to speak to the crowd in this manner. But in this context, the very firmly stated rebuke must have the force of conviction behind it in order to decisively address multiple offenders at one time and silence them quickly. To do otherwise prolongs the disrespectful atmosphere.