We Washingtonians are very fond of the millions of tourists who visit us each year, coming from all over the world to see our monumental buildings and learn about our Nation’s Capital, even in August. Since we like to see happy visitors, we protect them from some of the secrets about our tour guides.
They can be a bit dodgy, often have a whimsical way with history, and suffer under the handicap of deep inexperience with the city, but nevertheless, they pursue their duties with fierce bulldog determination.
Like so many people here, they are not quite fluent in English, which may be their fourth or fifth language.
They know that their charges are principally concerned with lunch, not history, and that most fail to listen to the exciting news that the structure before them is not a classical comfort station, but a monument to the war to end all wars, and if they did listen, they would have forgotten it by the time they got back on the bus.
Some guides bring their flocks to a round peristyle classical temple with a dome, and launch into their rote monologue on the Jefferson Memorial, which is also a round peristyle classical temple with a dome. But, the Memorial to Jefferson is far bigger, his statue is inside a gleaming peristyle reflected in the Tidal Basin, and it is a little over a half mile away. The temple memorial shown here is dedicated to soldiers from the District of Columbia, but communicates more directly DC's long-neglected need for routine maintenance.
We locals are always hopeful that the guides will ultimately find their way back to the bus, because we've seen so many groups being firmly marched off in the wrong direction to board the wrong bus.
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