The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial is already drawing big crowds in Washington, D.C. Its design, which features a 30-foot statue of the civil rights leader striding out of a block of stone, is producing positive reviews from many early visitors.
That’s great. But some of the media reports on the new King complex say it is the only memorial on the National Mall that doesn’t honor a president or a war.
That’s not true, strictly speaking. It may be the biggest and most impressive memorial to a nonpolitician on the Mall. But it isn’t the only one.
There’s the John Ericsson Memorial, for one. Of course, not that many people today remember the Swedish-born Ericsson – he was famous during and after the Civil War. An engineer and inventor, he was the principal designer of the famous Union ironclad warship, the USS Monitor.
The National Park Service lists Ericsson’s modest stone memorial as part of the National Mall and Memorial Parks. It stands where Independence Avenue meets Ohio Drive.
“In terms of placement, the memorial occupies a highly symbolic and important position guarding the Potomac River entrance into the Nation’s Capital; the Lincoln Memorial, honoring Ericsson’s great benefactor, stands just to the north,” notes the National Park Service website.
Then there’s the memorial honoring a somewhat better known naval hero – John Paul Jones. The Jones Memorial was erected in 1912 near the Tidal Basin.
George Mason has a Tidal Basin-area memorial, too. Mason was a Founding Father who wrote the Virginia Declaration of Rights and served as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1787. He was also a slaveholder, albeit one who wanted to ban the further importation of slaves and limit the spread of a practice he thought repugnant.
His memorial was approved by Congress in 1990 and dedicated in 2002. It is a simple statue of Mason sitting on a bench, near the Jefferson Memorial.
So that’s it – there are at least three other memorials on the Mall, or what the National Park Service defines as the National Mall, that honor a private citizen.
Plus, there is Lafayette Square, which isn’t really part of the Mall, but which still ranks as prime memorial territory, due to its proximity to the White House.
Many Americans may be able to identify Lafayette Square’s central statue – President Andrew Jackson, on horseback. But how many know that the square’s corners contain statues that honor foreign heroes of the American Revolution?
The Marquis de Lafayette himself stands on the southwest corner. The southeast corner features another Frenchman, Maj. Gen. Comte Jean de Rochambeau. Prussia’s Maj. Gen. Baron Frederich Wilhelm von Steuben gets the northwest corner. The northeast spot goes to Poland’s Gen. Thaddeus Kosciuszko.