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Over the Christmas Holidays I ended up leaving the beautiful DC and the National Christmas tree and went to my home town of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Home is where the heart is and the snow was falling for my arrival so I was glad to be home.  My goal of this trip was to find one thing that in my 28 years of being a Milwaukeean (not even sure that is a word though I know Wisconsinite is allowable) I have never visited.  I decided that (and the best time is to visit is at Christmas time) to visit the Pabst Mansion.  It is a beautiful Mansion along what is now called Wisconsin Ave but was formerly Grand Avenue.  Grand Ave was known back in the day for having over 80 mansions of Milwaukee’s elite.  Today there are just four of these mansions left.  The Pabst Mansion has a very long and illustrious history originally as the home of Captain Frederick Pabst and his family, then for being the residence of the Bishop of the Archdiocese of Wisconsin and then being “saved” after the wonderful work of enthusiastic Historical Preservationists (thankfully so and this is a must see in WI)!

The name Pabst certainly is recognizable to many as it is the name of one of the major brewing companies that got their start in Milwaukee: Pabst Blue Ribbon.  Many casually know it as PBR and it is best consumed out of a can while watching a sporting even on TV.  This is more of a joke but to many it may be true.  Frederick Pabst emigrated to the United States in 1848 and lived first in Milwaukee then in Chicago.  He ended up marrying the daughter of Phillip Best (founder of a small brewery in 1844).  Frederick Pabst worked as a captain for sailing ships in Lake Michigan but ended up purchasing the brewery from Best once he was ready to stay closer to home in 1864.  He revolutionized the brewing process to make Pabst Blue Ribbon a larger seller than Best could ever have dreamed of.

The Pabst Mansion was built as a retirement home for Frederick and Maria Pabst and was their residence from 1892 to 1908.  Pabst was built in the Flemish Renaissance Revival style by Milwaukee based architect George Bowman Ferry.  This is a 37 room mansion that encompasses three levels and a basement.  The rooms themselves are mostly furnished with the original furniture and wall hangings that have adorned the walls since the beginning.  Each room is very different than the next.  Certain main rooms follow in the Flemish Revival style but the Pabst designed some of their personal rooms very distinctively.  Mrs. Pabst parlor room was certainly designed by a woman’s hand with very delicate French Rocco style with rich golden elements to it and stands as a stark contrast to the Captain’s den not far down the hall which is adorned with darker Germanic elements.  I would say that the most fascinating element in the house is grand staircase railing.  The newel posts on the grand staircase are carved hop flowers.  This is a really good historical marker of the history of the Pabst family and their trade.

The Pabst family lived in the mansion until Maria Pabst death in 1908.  At that point it was sold to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee as the official residence of the Archbishop.  They maintained the house and its furnishings as best they could but due to the very high cost of maintaining it, put the house on the market in the 1975.  After threats that a developer wanted to buy the house and knock it down for a parking structure the Wisconsin Heritages, Inc purchased the Mansion and established a museum that would be opened for daily tours.  If passing through Milwaukee I would highly recommend making a visit to the Pabst Mansion as pictures are not only not allowed but would probably not do the house justice!

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As a Polish American I have grown up with a keen awareness of Thaddeus Kosciuszko as both a hero in Poland and a hero in the United States as well.  Kosciuszko was a General and leader of the Uprising against Russia which was named for him in 1794.  He ran into Silas Deane and Benjamin Franklin in August of 1776 and they persuaded him to come to the New World to help the Colonies fight for their independence.  Congress named him a Colonel in the Continental Army and after reading the Declaration of Independence asked to meet Thomas Jefferson.  The two became very close friends as a result.

There is a high Polish population, like myself, in the United States and as a result there is a large number of statues, memorials and bridges honoring Kosciuszko.  I remember passing the Kosciuszko Monument often back home in Milwaukee when we were visiting my grandparents or going to St. Josephat’s for Christmas Mass.  I was just back home on a recent trip to celebrate my grandparents 60th wedding anniversary and after attending church in the old neighborhood I decided to visit the Kosciuszko Monument.  There is a strong effort to collect money to restore the monument to its former glory (http://www.rkmmilwaukee.org/index.php).

Kosciuszko Statue, Milwaukee WI

There is a statue to honor Thaddeus Kosciuszko in Washington DC as well.  It is located in the Northeast Corner of Lafayette Square; Kosciuszko is very near the White House and almost looks like he is standing guard there as his gaze is away from the park.  The Colonel stands high on a pedestal surrounded by depictions of his contribution to the war for Independence.

The statue was made possible by the Polish National Alliance and was designed and sculpted Antoni Popiel and it was dedicated on the anniversary of Poland’s Independence on May 11, 1910.  These statues are not only a fitting testament to the contribution of Brigadier General Thaddeus Kosciuszko to the efforts of American Independence but a part of my Polish heritage and all the Poles in the world.

Thaddeus Kosciuszko Statue, Lafayette Square, Washington DC

This memorial is one that I have seen in rain or shine and in all season but to me it always shines.  Women made a significant contribution during the Vietnam conflict and among the over 58,000 names included on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall there are eight women’s names included.  The Vietnam Women’s Memorial was not something that was in Maya Lin’s original design but was added on November 11, 1993 in order to honor all women who served in Vietnam.

The statue depicts one woman who is nursing a sick soldier named Michael Webb as in compassion or charity.  One woman looking at the sky as if in hope; she is hoping that a helicopter will come and pick up the sick soldier.  While the last woman is looking at the ground as if in faith, she is praying that that helicopter will come and save the sick soldier.  These were three feelings that the women felt while serving in Vietnam.   

The pictures here were taken over Memorial Day Weekend when the Harley riders make their yearly race to the Wall to honor all of their fallen brothers.  This really is the most poignant time to visit the Wall and the Vietnam Women’s Memorial because there is a blanket of flowers that forms to honor everyone’s service and sacrifices.  Glenna Goodacre designed this memorial.ImageImageImage

August marks my third year of living here in DC and it also marks my third year of working in a building on 14th and K Street.  My daily commute takes me to the McPherson Square Metro stop.  I often wondered why it was called McPherson and I only really had a vague idea about who Mr. McPherson might be… I figured that it had something to do with the Civil War as many of the equestrian statues in Washington DC do.

Well the section of the city is called McPherson Square and it surrounds around the mark area that constantly seems to be under construction.  They did a beautiful renovation of the grassy areas just in time for the Occupy DC people to move in and ruin it.  They have moved out now so hopefully it will be beautiful very soon.

The centerpiece of the park is an equestrian statue of Major General James B. McPherson.  He fought with the Union Army during the Civil war and sadly was killed at the Battle of Atlanta.  The statue itself was dedicated on October 18, 1876.  It depicts McPherson scanning the battlefield.    

Interestingly enough, Confederate Cannons that were captured at the Battle of Atlanta were used for the casting of this memorial.

It is very well located near the White House.  Actually the McPherson Square stop is the better metro stop to get off to go toward the White House.  Remember before you take your right to the White House; be sure to take a moment to visit the James B. McPherson. Image

This particular trek did not happen because it was planned.  I remembered seeing this statue some time ago while walking form Eastern Market to a bar and I ran across it again on my way to a friend’s house for a get together.  It was a woman standing with two children.  The woman is Mary McLeod Bethune.  She herself was an educator to slaves.  She founded a school called the Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach where she served as President for several years.  She was active in politics and actually served on Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Black Cabinet.

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I like this idea where it looks like this woman is teaching others.  There was a statue of Princess Pauahi in Honolulu where the Princess was sitting and teaching a Hawaiian child around her.  These sorts of statues always have the likeness of teachers who have shaped my life over the years.  The average person looking at the statue hasn’t had Mary Bethune or hasn’t learned anything from Princess Pauahi but the lesson is there none the less.  The lesson of why education for all people is important.  Mary Bethune taught slave children and other minorities while Princess Pauahi set up a trust to start Kamehameha schools to educate Native Hawaiian Children.

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My brother and I went on a crazy road trip to see our Kindergarten Teacher Ms. Thomas in Tennessee.  I don’t even know how it came up but we were talking about statues in Washington DC and we talked about “teacher statues in DC”.  I told her I seem to remember seeing a statue of a woman with two children around her and she was handing them something.  Ms. Thomas said why that sounds like Mary McLeod Bethune.  I truly learned that day.  I didn’t know who Mary Bethune was and why she was passing papers on to the children.

Mary McLeod Bethune moved into Lincoln Park on July 10, 1974 and she has left us with the quote, “I leave you also a desire to live harmoniously with your fellow man”.  I like that thought…

The centerpiece of the National Mall in Washington DC is the Washington Monument.  The first sort of Monument or memorial to a historical figure in Washington DC it is a structure that is full of history.  A common question that comes to mind about the monument is why the stone is two different colors.

The construction of the Washington Monument began in 1848, when the US government took up a public collection asking all the citizens of the United States to donate NO MORE THAN $1 toward the building of the monument.  As would be expected from those terms eventually they ran out of funding (at about 152 feet high).  Due to a lack of funding and the introduction of the Civil War construction on the monument stopped.

When many Americans flocked to Washington DC for the US centennial, they were greeted with this 152 ft stump off in the horizon.  Building finally resumed in 1877 but they found that the original stone was no longer available so they had to select something else.  It was later completed in 1884 making the Washington Monument, which stands at 555ft and 5 1/8ths inches tall, the tallest free standing masonry structure in the world.

There are 193 commemorative stones on the inside, which helped to defray the cost of the building of the Washington Monument.  Alaska donated a stone of pure jade and other states, countries and organizations were encouraged to donate commemorative stones to put on the inside.

Normally, guests could get free tickets to take the 70-second elevator ride to the top of the Washington Monument but due to the earthquake that occurred in the area in August 2011 access to the monument is currently closed.  The crack on the peak of the Monument was so bad that you could see daylight from the inside out.

Hopefully, very soon the Monument will be open again so that everyone can enjoy the beautiful view of Washington DC from that vantage point!