Monday, November 5, 2012
James Buchanan Memorial
This is one I still can't figure out. Washington DC has the towering Washington Monument, the majestic Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson on the Tidal Basin... but those guys are all generally thought of as good, even great, presidents. "Buchanan was a great president too," said absolutely no one - in fact, historians almost always rank him as the absolute worst president of all time. So why does he have a memorial?
And that answer is, I really don't know yet, though I hope someday to find out. I do know this: the Memorial, inexplicable as it is, happens to be quite nice. The impeccably-dressed president sits admiring the Constitution, or, possibly, glumly ponders his historical reputation. A side panel hails Old Buck as "The incorruptible statesman whose walk was upon the mountain ranges of the law." In old school Roman style, all the U's are actually V's, so "Bvchanan" is actually walked on the "movntain range." But the man has enough problems without us bringing up spelling.
Even nicer than the memorial: its setting, Meridian Hill Park (also called Malcolm X Park). It's not near the Mall or even a subway stop, but a beautiful park with waterfall features, trees, He may be ranked last as a president, but his memorial isn't.