When I was 16 my parents and I visited Washington, DC. It was my first big trip to the city. As we struggled our way along the Mall on a heated day we stumbled upon a rundown memorial hidden behind trees and overgrown grass. At that moment, the District of Columbia World War I Memorial became a personal favorite. No one else knew about it. It was mine.
About two years ago an effort was undertaken to repair the memorial. Something that tore me in two. The knowledge that it, like every other structure along the Mall, deserved respect. The realization that it would no longer be hidden from the world. No longer mine.
I didn’t have a chance to visit before I left DC, so I made a point to stop by during my trip. I thought I’d be disappointed to see people climbing all over it. Snapping photographs. Staring quizzically. But, it was actually nice. The memorial hasn’t been ruined by exposing it to the world at large. It’s still partially hidden. It’s still intimate. And it looks amazing. It was like seeing the memorial in a new light. Not only were there more people there to appreciate it, but it furthered my appreciation. It made me love it even more.