Saturday, December 22, 2007
One of the newer memorials in Washington, D.C., is the FDR Memorial. Located just to the west/southwest of the Jefferson Memorial on the Tidal Basin, the FDR is a series of four rooms depicting each of the terms of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's presidency as well as 12 of the most significant and influential years in the 20th century in American history. Beginning with the Great Depression and continuing through almost to the end of World War II, visitors work through history and see Roosevelt's career depicted in sculpture, bas reliefs, and waterfalls.
Three things are unique about this memorial. First, it was built to accomodate not only the physically able, but also the physically disabled. The memorial is accessible to people in wheelchairs, as well as those who are visually impaired. Second, when it opened in 1997, there was, ironically, nothing that depicted President Roosevelt in a wheelchair himself. Roosevelt contracted polio as a young man and wore braces and used wheelchairs throughout his adult life. The National Organization on Disability raised $1.65 million dollars to pay for the placement of an additional sculpture that shows the President in a wheelchair. It greets visitors at the entrance of the memorial. And third, when the memorial first opened, visitors were encouraged to wade through the water fountains and falls. Unfortunately, within days of opening the National Park Service had to suspend this activity because they weren't able to secure liability insurance.
Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 12/07