#105 Washington, D.C.

Published on August 25, 2006

=> About this Issue
=> “Surprises of Washington”
=> “What’s a D.C. anyway?”
=> “Shevchenko in D.C.”
=> What’s Special About this Issue?
=> In the Next Issue

About this Issue

In this issue, we offer up 3 brief texts and a number of links for further study. We hope it will get the curiosity of teachers, students, American Studies fans, and Ukrainians . All the texts deal with Washington, D.C., the capital of the U.S.

“Washington Surprises” by Kevin

I recently spent two-plus weeks in Washington, D.C., on a through the University of Maryland, where I was fortunate to teach and a great group of Japanese university students around Washington, D.C. (For a photo gallery: www.etseverywhere.com/wp-gallery2.php)

Prior to this, I had absolutely no interest in Washington, D.C. (except to see the statue of Taras Shevchenko). But I was happily surprised by a number of things:

FIRST SURPRISE. Free stuff. That’s right. All the national museums and memorials are free. You can go up to the top of the Washington Monument for free. You can spend all day in the National Museum of the American Indian or the National Air and Space Museum–for free. Nothing. Nada.

And that’s free for Americans AND foreigners. (Consider the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, which charges foreigners 10 times the price of Russians)

Now there are some private museums–the popular Spy Museum for one–which charge an entry fee. But you could spend weeks in D.C. without paying for entry into museums, gardens, and you could see a few free concerts on the way.

If you would like to learn about the museums, or you would like texts AND free downloadable mp3 audios about them, here are some links for The Voice of America, a web site of the U.S. government. The English is spoken slowly and clearly but the texts are lively (not dry government drivel!).

You can find tons of articles and free mp3s at Voice of America’s web site (www.voanews.com/english/index.cfm), but my favorite place to retrieve older VOA texts and audios is a Japanese archive site www.unsv.com. So the following links come from that site. There’s Japanese writing, but don’t worry–you can navigate your way through the English. Here are links to just a few of the many articles about Washington museums and sights:

The Washington Monument

The Botanical Gardens

Memorial Day and Military Memorials

National Museum of the American Indian

National Air and Space Museum

The Spy Museum (http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2002/08/07/0045/)

Mount Vernon (The home of George Washington)

SECOND SURPRISE: I found some Southern hospitality and openness. A complete stranger in a Post Office even put a hand on my shoulder while she was telling me about how often her little boy got up at night to go to the bathroom. Most men I spoke with casually on the street or in shops addressed me as “sir.”

What is D.C. anyway? by I.M. Poosheesty

Most people (some people?) know that D.C. stands for District of Columbia. But they don’t know why we have such a district, and why it is where it is, and why it’s Colombia. So here we go . . .

Most of American history deals with a certain divide–the divide between the North and the South. Naturally, southerners didn’t want a capital in the North, and Northerners didn’t want a capital in the South. The Maryland/Virginia border is one of these North/South divides. Each of these states devoted some of its land to create a District between them–neither Northern nor Southern, a compromise.

So why Columbia? Is it like the Colombia in South America? Exactly. These names stem from the so-called discoverer of the Americas: Christopher Columbus.

For more details on this D.C. story, you can go to this VOA link:

“Shevchenko in Washington” by Kevin

There is a statue of Ukraine’s great poet Taras Shevchenko in D.C. It has been there for over 40 years.
Some 40, 000 people attended its unveiling in 1964. But why? Most Americans don’t know who Shevchenko is.

Well, the idea got started by Ukrainian Americans, and they have always been a rather vocal crowd of immigrants. They formed a group called the Ukrainian Congress Committe of America (www.ucca.org) which proposed the statue. The statue was commissioned in 1960, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the poet’s birth.

But they needed the approval of the government. It helped much that in one of his verses Shevchenko made reference to George Washington. But also, the Cold War was in full swing. We can get a good idea of the rational for supporting the statue by looking at the statements of two U.S. Senators at the time:

Jacob Javits: “It was Shevchenko’s poetry that encouraged the Ukrainians, forced within the Soviet Union, to continue their struggles for freedom and in World War II encouraged and fostered the Ukrainian opposition to both fascism and communism. It is only fitting that the statue of such a national hero, who taught the American ideals of patriotism and service to man, should stand in the capital of the United States.”

Senator Alvin Morell: A Shevchnko statue “would constitute a great psychological weapon against the Communist propaganda systematically being disseminated among the Ukrainians to the effect that only Moscow is a friend of the Ukrainian people, while the United States and other Western Powers are ‘capitalist enemies’ of the Ukrainian people.

So while the statue was created as a tribute to Shevchenko, it was also–rather predictably–an anti-Soviet symbol.

You can find the statue at P street and 22nd, in Dupont Circle.

What’s Special About this issue?

In a one-room apartment on Ul. Vladimirskaya, in Samara, Russia, a guy sent out the first issue of ETs in Russia. That was September 1st, 2001, and there were 14 subscribers. Now there are 1700 subscribers in 30 countries.

In the next issue

More People Types. No promises though.

Copyright 2006 Kevin McCaughey & I.M. Poosheesty

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