People have always loved symbols and monuments. Even before there was any sort of written language, there were places and things considered sacred, whether it was the Mesopotamians' ziggurats or the Egyptians' pyramids. Thus, it had long been a practice to make some sort of memorial to those who had died as a way to remember and honor them and, given the importance of George Washington to the young United States of America, it's no surprise that plans to build monuments to him began within months of his death.
There are countless ways that Washington, remembered as, "[F]irst in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen," has been commemorated across America, but the most famous is the Washington Monument. Congress had actually called for establishing a monument to Washington as far back as 1783, but it wasn't until the 1830s that work on the world's tallest obelisk began in earnest. In fact, while the Washington Monument is taken as a given today, and it was designed to be, "[U]nparalleled in the world, and commensurate with the gratitude, liberality, and patriotism of the people by whom it is to be erected," there were several issues that nearly prevented it from being a reality, including political arguments, costs, and lack of progress. Though it may be hard to believe, the Washington Monument was not dedicated until the 1880s, nearly half a century after an obelisk was first envisioned.
By the time it was finished, however, it was clear that the wait was worth it.
©2012 Charles River Editors (P)2015 Charles River Editors