Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC

Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC

The Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC was built as a memorial to Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of the United States. We visited the Jefferson Memorial during our July 2023 Virginia and Washington, DC trip.

Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC

Inside the dome of the Jefferson Memorial, a statue of Thomas Jefferson is surrounded by quotes from some of his writings. Like him or not, it is difficult to deny his place in American History. He did, after all, write the Declaration of Independence, among other things. And he was the third United States president, after George Washington and John Adams. He is the guy on the nickel1. Plus, you might recognize him as one of the giant faces on Mount Rushmore, too.

Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC

The Jefferson Memorial opened in 1943, and features this 19-foot-tall statue of Thomas Jefferson. The words around the top of the walls are a quote by Jefferson, “I hae sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC

Here is one example of a quote from Jefferson on the walls around the statue. If you cannot read it in the photo, the quote says:

God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever. Commerce between master and slave is despotism. Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free. Establish the law for educating the common people. This it is the business of the state to effect and on a general plan.

Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC

The view across the water of the Jefferson Memorial is a good one, too. This view shows the side of the Jefferson Memorial, as you can see the entry canopy protruding to the left. And if you look closely, you can see some construction ramps coming out of the side closest to the water. Many of the memorials were getting a little restoration work, presumably in advance of the nation’s 250th anniversary coming up soon.

Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC

It was a hot July day, and we had walked quite a bit. But it was worth it to see the Jefferson Memorial and all the other memorials and monuments we visited that day!

Monuments and Memorials

Somehow, I do not picture Thomas Jefferson go through his life thinking, “Look at all of this stuff I am doing! I bet one day there will be some sort of monument to me!” Maybe he realized he was doing some great things. Maybe he thought he was leaving some sort of mark on the world, especially by the time he became president. But just maybe he was going through life doing what he could with the gifts and talents that he had been given.

Yes, sometimes people do want to get a little bit of glory. Some recognition is nice sometimes. But those who accomplish the most and make the most lasting impressions are not doing what they do for any recognition. They are just doing what they can, serving others by using their gifts for good.

When we can change our mindset from one of getting glory and recognition to one of serving others, we take our own focus off of ourselves and put it on others. As Christians, we put that focus on serving God, which then leads naturally to serving others, so that God gets the glory instead of getting the glory for ourselves. By doing that, we can share God’s love unselfishly with others, and much good will come from it.

If people remember us for our service to God, that is good. But if we can focus the attention on him and not on ourselves, that is even better.

Truly loving others means not questioning what is in it for yourself.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24

Love One Another

About the Photos

The first photo is reminiscent of many of the photos that I used to post, with lots of color saturation and evened-out highlights and shadows, almost an HDR look2. I still enjoy that look, even though it can be over the top at times. I tried to keep it more in control here.

Most of the other photos do have a bit of that look as well, although not quite to the same degree. And actually, because of the lack of color differences, the photos inside the memorial almost could have been black and white. But I left them in color here.

And the final photo was taken with my iPhone, because that is an easier way to get all of us in the photo.

Photo: Each photo is a single Raw exposure, processed in Raw Therapee and GIMP.
Camera: Sony Alpha A7 II
Lens: Sony FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS lens
Date: July 27, 2023
Location: Washington, DC

  1. In what seems like a lifetime ago, back in 1987, our high school band visited Jefferson’s home of Monticello in Virginia, which was quite interesting. I kept pulling a nickel out of my pocket and showing everyone that we were at the building on the back of the nickel. Most of them knew it already and thought I was weird. Which was probably true. ↩︎

  2. A processing technique merging multiple exposures (darker, normal, lighter) to give a higher dynamic range (HDR), lightening the dark parts and darkening the light parts. I used to use that process a lot, but it is much simpler to just shoot one exposure instead of three or more each time. ↩︎


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Burnsland is Steve Burns, with generous help from his lovely wife Laura. Steve is a husband, father, photographer, webmaster, writer, podcaster, artist, Christian. Steve enjoys sharing his photography, art, and stories through, from the Burnsland World Headquarters in Tennessee.