Washington MonumentDear Kid,

I’m guessing that since you are spending your time on collegiate pursuits like studying (maybe?), going to basketball games, playing flag football, and sleeping, you have not had sufficient time to contemplate the Washington Monument.

Not to worry. I am here—as usual—to rectify the situation.

Are you familiar with the military term BLUF? It’s a concept I learned many millennia ago, but didn’t know it had a cool military acronym until recently. BLUF = Bottom Line Up Front. In other words, tell me the point and then you can go back and fill in the details and if it’s absolutely necessary I may keep reading.

The point: On December 6, 1884, the Washington Monument was completed.

We now return to the Interesting Story.

Once upon a time (as I continue to believe all good stories should begin), there was a baby country in the throes of Revolution. There arose a Great Leader with Bad Teeth (G. W. himself) who led the country to military victory, became the first President of the new Republic, and earned the title “Father of Our Country.”

We The People thought this was quite terrific and decided there should be a statue of G. W. himself. Well, Congress decided but since Congress represents We The People….(excuse me while I giggle helplessly for a moment).

When Pierre L’Enfant laid out the new federal capital area (1791), he left a Spot for the statue. And because Congress was in charge, nothing happened.

Fast forward to 1832 (33 years after G. W. himself died) when the National Monument Society was formed. They held a contest to determine the design of the statue and chose a Greek-temple-ish design. Then they began to raise money. While they raised a fair amount (it was 1832 you’ll remember), the $230K they raised was nowhere near the $1 million they needed. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Because it was Washington, DC, they began construction anyway because why not? By the time they laid the cornerstone (a 24,500 pound block of pure white marble), it was 1848.

Six years later, they ran out of money and everything came to a grinding halt.

Then in 1876, 100 years after the country was founded), President Ulysses S Grant (who would later be found in Grant’s tomb) said WTF? and got things moving again.

Somewhere along the line the design went from Greek-temple-ish to big column of marble and on December 6, 1884, workers placed the 9 inch aluminum pyramid at the top and called it a completed statute.

It looks exactly nothing like G. W. himself, but is quite a nice tribute nonetheless.

The monument (to G. W. himself) is made of 36,000 blocks of marble and granite and towers 555 feet high. This is taller than I am. There is a city law (passed in 1910) that says that no buildings in DC can be taller than the monument.

You may now return to your previously scheduled studying (I hope), going to basketball games, playing flag football, and sleeping.

Love, Mom