You see it frequently, although you don’t always know it, and sometimes you don’t recognize it. It’s the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial in Washington, DC. Located just west of the Capitol, at the eastern edge of the Mall, the general today looks out across a reflecting pool toward the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. Often one sees the monument in the foreground of a shot of the west face of the Capitol building.
The Grant statue is often a gathering place for pedestrians and visitors.
To Grant’s left, on the southern edge of the monument, is a representation of an artillery unit moving into action:
To the north, on Grant’s right, is a group of cavalrymen charging:
As you can see from these two images, taken two years apart, sometimes the sword of the lead officer disappears.
Along the pedestal upon which Grant is located are reliefs of infantrymen marching forward, so all three combat branches are represented.
Grant himself, in cold weather garb, looks forward sternly.
I like to walk by the monument when I visit Washington, in part because it is so impressive, and because you can see new things each time you visit. Perhaps it’s also because I remember that after giving a presentation on Grant while I was still teaching in South Carolina, a commenter said that upon hearing my paper, he thought it was time to erect a statue of Grant in Washington … a Grant Memorial, so to speak.
I said nothing. After all, I knew that I was leaving South Carolina, anyway.
Back in 1985 I attended a ceremony in Washington marking the centennial of Grant’s death. At that time the monument had undergone some restoration in anticipation of the occasion. Earlier this year, I walked by it once more, and this is what I saw:
This portended a more through restoration and conservation project.
You can barely see the general under all that covering.
A sign describes the work that’s under way.
You might want to watch this presentation by Michele Cohen, a curator in the office of the Architect of the Capitol, who discusses the monument’s history and the present restoration project.