By David J. Smith, July 25, 2014
In two previous posts (West End National Mall Peace Monuments, June 22, 2014; Visiting Washington, DC this Summer? Visit a Peace Monument!, May 30, 2014) I discussed the numerous, and frequently under experienced, monuments, memorials, and sites to peace in Washington, DC. As mentioned before, I recommend the work of Ted Lollis who has developed a guide to visiting peace monuments in DC and published a book on international monuments to peace.
This past week I was near Dupont Circle having coffee with a colleague and walked up Massachusetts Avenue to visit one of the most recognizable statues in Washington, that of the Indian activist Mahatma Gandhi. The Gandhi Memorial was erected in front of the Indian Embassy in 2000 and sculpted by Gautam Pal of Calcutta. On Gandhi’s birthday, October 2, people will often take a short pilgrimage to the site and lay bouquets of marigolds in his honor.
Besides the Indian Embassy’s monument, other international groups and embassies have dedicated peace sites in DC. The Organization of American States’s Peace Tree at 17th Street and Constitution Avenue was planted in 1910, long before much was developed on the west end of the Mall. In addition, in a tunnel connecting the main OAS building with another building is a 200 foot mural depicting various themes of peace and development in the Americas, called “The Roots of Peace.” Arguably, the OAS itself, as a international regional organization – and the first of its kind – is a peace memorial.
The German-American Friendship Garden at Constitution Avenue between 15th and 17th Streets commemorates the 300th anniversary of German immigration to the U.S. And the International Peace Garden near the Tidal Basin consists of 4000 tulip bulbs presented to the U.S. by the Canadian government in 1991.
Often these sites are obscure and hard to identify (sometimes there isn’t much in the way of markings or signage), but look for them and celebrate the contributions of internationals in working with Americans in promoting peace.