For one of our visual assignments this week, I chose Return to the Scene of the Crime from the Assignment Bank. The assignment required us to “Take a photo from the past that you took in a particular location. Return to that stop, and take another picture, “framing” the original within the current view.”
I took some liberties with the assignment guidelines: First, the photo of the past I used was not a print photo but the Lincoln Memorial printed on the back for the $5 note. Second, I took the photo I’m submitting a few months ago, not recently. This was on July 4, 2013, while I was volunteering for the American Red Cross during the 4th of July celebrations on the National Mall. For those of you who live in the DC area, you’ll know that while there are always many people milling about on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, it’s not usuallly as many as in this photo. This crowd was waiting for the fireworks to begin.
I took this photo along the Reflecting Pool. My limitations included the glare from the setting sun, the temporary fencing put up by the National Park Service, and the crowds of people around me, all preventing me from aligning the $5 bill exactly with the columns of the actual Lincoln Memorial. I tried several ways to angle my camera but in the end could not align the columns properly without stepping on small children or falling into the (duck doo-infested) Reflecting Pool.
I cannot even take credit for the idea of this photo. While on business travel the previous January to a naval hospital, I noticed a similar photo ($5 bill framed against the Lincoln Memorial) used as the background photo on someone’s computer screen. I asked him, a Navy veteran, about it and he told me it was taken on his one and only visit to Washington, D.C. That poignant conversation reminded me of how I sometimes take for granted that I live in a city replete with memorials to our nation’s history, yet there are thousands of Americans out there, including those who served in our armed forces, who have never had the chance to visit D.C. So, on the day the U.S. celebrated its independence from Great Britain and on the site of the memorial to the President who issued the Emancipation Proclamation, I copied the photo idea to honor those veterans, including two uncles, who have not had the chance to visit D.C.