Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Memorial Tuesday: The Boy Scouts' Weird Memorial

Heck, let's just make this memorial week. As I said yesterday there are so many in the city, I could do this forever.  

Just south of the White House, on the 15th Street side of the Ellipse, is one of the weirdest monuments in DC. I can't call it ugly because, well, it's not ugly; but it is peculiar. 

I was never a scout (I went to one cub meeting as a child, but when I found out we weren't the ones eating, --errr, selling-- the cookies, I just left.). But, if I were a scout, and I was asked to design a scout memorial, I'd say include something like, I dunno, a scout building a fire, or helping an elderly person cross the street, or fording a river. You know, scout stuff.

The last imagery I would think to incorporate would be a mix of classic and modern sculptures including vague half naked representations of "American Manhood and Womanhood" along side the ideal scout. But that's what happened. Actually, the idealized American adults are behind the scout. They're supposedly delivering the best of human ideals, honed over the ages, to the new generation. The young scout, walking stick in hand, is "striding into the future" full of hope that all great things in America live on in perpetuity.

Some very idealistic, allegorical images that you might guess came out of the Cold War era. And you'd be pretty close; the statue was built in 1964. There is an unkempt pool and limited seating as well. I've got to assume it'll look a little better this summer after a scrub down and when there is actually some water in it.

The site of the memorial is not accidental. It marks the location of the very first Boy Scout National Jamboree (a very, very large gathering held about every 4 years). There's also a World Jamboree, which will be held in the U.S. for the first time ever in 2019. Maybe they'll spruce up the memorial and pool by then. This is a fun series. I'l see if I can keep it going all week. Stay tuned.