A Voice of Strength

Entry #16.5 / 2nd July 2022

The next stop on our itinerary was the Washington Monument. While we didn’t approach it directly, I found the distance we maintained surprisingly fitting. Sometimes, stepping back enhances the beauty of such landmarks. It’s like appreciating the grandeur of the monument in its entirety rather than focusing on specific details up close.

                  “We should probably get going now,” Ryan said as we sat down for a few minutes, chatting and taking in the Washington Monument. “It looks like it’s going to rain soon.”

                  Ryan wasn’t wrong. To our left, the sky painted a breathtaking scene with hues of blue blending into soft yellows and light oranges as the sunset approached. However, on the opposite side, ominous grey clouds loomed closer, casting a shadow over our location.

                  “How far is the Lincoln Memorial from here?” I questioned, slowly getting up and thinking plans in my head.

                  “Not too far…” Janette said as she looked at her phone. Most probably the map to the Lincoln Memorial. “Fifteen minutes?”

                  We debated for a minute and a half on whether it was worth braving the imminent rain. Personally, I was indifferent, but collectively, we all agreed to see if we could make it there before the rain showered us.

                  So, that involved a lot of speed walking.

                  At some point, as we walked along the pathway to the Lincoln Memorial, we slowed our pace. Evening was setting in, casting a gentle glow from the streetlights, and serene stillness enveloped us as we absorbed the ambiance of the partially wooded area, where speck of light twinkled.

                  “Oh gosh,” I mumbled as I watched the dashes of light skip around. “Are those fireflies?”

                  “Yep!” Ryan said as he causally whipped out his phone to take footage of the fireflies flowing beautifully in the area.

                  I attempted to do the same, but since it wasn’t massively dark yet, it was hard to capture the fireflies as I could see them on camera. But it was so beautiful – how nature can still overcome any manmade areas.

                  Though, this peaceful moment was interrupted by the low-thunder of the sky in the distance.

                  “Okay,” Janette stood up from the bench she took a moment to sit down on as we took our respective footages of the fireflies. “I think that’s our signal to keep moving.”

                  We sped-walked again through the pathways, looking upon the lake that ran between the monument and the memorial briefly. Then

                  The Lincoln Memorial exceeded all my expectations, unlike the White House. It was larger and more imposing than I had imagined. The staircase leading up to the memorial seemed endless, a surprise as I hadn’t anticipated any stairs at all.

                  A few merchandise carts lined the steps below the memorial, but I hardly noticed them when I first saw the Lincoln Memorial. The hustle and bustle around me, the thundering footsteps, all faded into the background. Once you laid eyes on it, it was impossible to focus on anything else.

                  Midway through climbing the never-ending steps to the Lincoln Memorial, Janette tapped on my shoulder.

                  She gave me a small smile as I met her eyes. “You alright?”

                  It took a few seconds to process what she was asking. “Yea… it’s just…” Beautiful? Breathtaking? Groundbreaking? No compliments I could conjure up seemed  sufficient for what I was seeing and feeling. It was as if… as if everything was falling into place.

                  Janette hummed in understanding. “Did you want a photo quickly? Before the rain comes?”

                  Once again, it took me a few seconds to get it together and I nodded enthusiastically. “Yes please.”

                  After snapping a few quick photos for Instagram, we ascended the steps to the Lincoln Memorial. Despite the growing crowds around us, I didn’t feel as anxious as I thought I would. My focus was entirely on the monument itself. It appeared to expand before my eyes, as if it were stretching upwards, gaining newfound stature with each step we took.

                  But soon, we climbed the last remaining steps and we were in.


                  My heart raced, pounding against my chest as the memorial transformed before me, transcending mere architecture to embody the essence of the world itself. Its design, atmosphere, and the play of light combined to create an overwhelming experience. In that singular moment, I felt both so small and yet so massively big, important. Each breath, each step seemed to connect me not only with the hundreds of people present but those locked in the past. Walking into that space, I felt myself becoming a part of history itself.

                  That made me more anxious than any crowd could ever.

                  In the back of my mind, I was aware that I had become separated from Janette and Ryan within the crowds, but I couldn’t spare much thought for it. My attention was wholly absorbed by the solemn dedication of the memorial.

                  I swallowed hard as I stood in front, and as close as I could get, to the statue of President Abraham Lincoln.

                  It was difficult not to imagine he was looking directly at me, his gaze seemingly fixed upon us. And it was equally challenging to dismiss the notion that others shared the same sensation. The intensity of his gaze, directed downwards at me, at us, seemed almost urging, compelling, conveying a message. The longer I held his stare, the more I sensed something stirring within me, as if each moment fortified a growing conviction, each glance adding another layer to an emerging edifice of resolve.

                  An essence of importance, of a voice, bubbling in the depths of my soul that Lincoln was so well known for. For using his voice – for having the strength to use it.

                  But that voice… it didn’t just come from nowhere.

                  Where did his come from?

                  Where does anyone’s voice come from?

                  Where does that individual strength come from?

                  I startled slightly when someone bumped into me, their muttered apologises prompting a gentle shake of my head accompanied by a light smile. I gracefully shifted aside, allowing others to appreciate the statue.

                  But it was hard to ignore his eyes. No matter where I was in the memorial, his eyes were a burning flame.