Summer Drama at the Capital

After coming back to the states following my amazing trip to France and Ireland, I made a quick stop at the beach before I went to Washington D.C. to rediscover some of the monuments and museums that I haven’t seen since I was in middle school. I happened to stumble into town during a week of scandal, excitement and surprises involving misquoting MLK Jr, a mysterious monument vandal and a flower that smells like death.

Sunny Capitol
Sunny Capitol

Green Machine

Last week Washingtonians and tourists alike were puzzled when several monuments and churches were vandalized by someone throwing green and white paint on statues and organs.

A 58-year-old woman was finally arrested last Monday and charged with defacing the National Cathedral.  Police found her hiding in the bathroom at the cathedral with green paint on her shoes.  Jaimei Tian may also be connected in splashing paint on the Lincoln Memorial and the statue of Joseph Henry in front of the Smithsonian Castle in addition to the $15,000 dollars in damage at the Cathedral in the Bethlehem and Children’s chapels.

People were left wondering why green paint, why these places and what was the purpose.  Tian is from China and her visa expired on Saturday.  She is being held in a half way house until  her August 29 court hearing.  She could face up to 10 years in jail for destroying private property and could be removed by immigration authorities.  The outrage over the disrespect of the Lincoln Memorial caused a social media outcry to #respectlincoln and has raised several thousand dollars towards restoration.  You can text PARKS to 90999 to donate “two Lincolns” ($10) to The National Park Foundation website to donate a ‘Lincoln’ or more.

The Lincoln Memorial with remnants of green paint in the lower right corner
The Lincoln Memorial with remnants of green paint in the lower right corner

A woman works to remove green paint on the statue in front of the Smithsonian Castle
A woman works to remove paint on the statue in front of the Smithsonian Castle

It’s not about what you say, it’s how you say it???

Sculpture Lei Yixin returned to DC last week to work on removing a paraphrased quote that was placed on the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.  The statue was erected in August of 2011 and the quote, which was an excerpt from his “Drum Major Speech” caused enough controversy to require removal, something that is rarely done on monuments and memorials in the capital.

“I was a drum major for justice, peace, and righteousness,” was the quote that readers and historians like Maya Angelou felt was too out of context from the original line.  In my opinion the full quote is much more eloquent.  “Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice.  Say that I was a drum major for peace.  I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.  I won’t have any money to leave behind. I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind.”  – Martin Luther King Jr.

Click here to read or listen to the ‘Drum Major Instinct’  Sermon and see if you agree with the misquote.

Scaffolding flanks the massive statue as they work to complete the updates
Scaffolding flanks the massive statue as they work to complete the updates

The memorial’s beautiful stone replica towers over you as King strongly stares out over the tidal basin and across towards the Jefferson Memorial.  Alterations will cost an estimate of $700,000 which will come from the National Park Foundation for repairs and maintenance.  They plan to finish the changes by August 28th, the 50th anniversary of the march for Jobs and Freedom which ended with King’s famous ‘I have a dream’ speech.

Stop and smell the flowers… 

The Titan Arum, aka “corpse flower” is the world’s smelliest flower and was currently blooming at the US Botanical Garden (located on the Mall next to the Capitol).  The corpse flower is very unpredictable when it blooms, and this particular bud has bloomed for the first time since it was brought to the garden in 2007.  The Titan Arum doesn’t have a blooming cycle so it may not flower again for years or decades.  This colossal plant is the largest of it’s kind in the world, sending a putrid odor out for 24-48 hours to attract pollinators.  It was first discovered in Indonesia in 1878 and can grow up to 12 feet tall in their natural habitat.  Watch an interesting time lapse video of the corpse flower here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMQmGGVvWj4#at=15

This was how the flower looked by the time I saw it, not as big and blooming, but still interesting!

A deflated corpse flower
A deflated corpse flower   

No Comments

  1. Reply
    Jenn Winter

    Great post, Abbie! Never a dull moment, huh?

    1. Reply
      Speck on the Globe Post author

      Always an adventure!

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