Q & R: Memorial Tour

Here’s the Q:

Do you have any suggestions for leading youth on a D.C. Memorial tour, where they could learn about how we have formed hostile identities against others in the past and to learn how to form “strong, gracious towards others” identities in the future?

Here’s the R:
I lived in DC for most of my life and one of my favorite things to do when I’m back in town is to take people on a tour of war memorials – to guide people on our national reflections on war. Here’s a slideshow on the subject:
You can start at Lincoln and then go to Vietnam and Korea. Then go to World War II, then cut over to Roosevelt and end at MLK. It will take about 4 hours and you will walk a couple of miles … and at each stop, you can reflect on
a) What the memorial is saying about America when the memorial was built
b) What the war or person it commemorates was about
c) What the architecture, artistry, and inscriptions are saying about America and war
d) What effect the memorial has on you.
One thing you won’t find … any memorials to the humanity of our enemies. Their humanity is predictably absent from all our memorials. (I’ve always wished that a church in DC would create something that our government probably won’t do … create a memorial to the war dead from the other side of our conflicts.)
But thankfully, you will find the voices of the marginalized in a few places in DC – in the Native American museum, the Holocaust museum, and in the future, at the African American history and culture museum (currently a part of the Smithsonian History and Technology museum). They should be at the top of your list of places to visit.
DC is an amazing treasure. Visiting can be a rather meaningless succession of touristic photo stops, or it can be a truly life-changing engagement with our past, present, and future.