THIEPVAL MEMORIAL GRAVESTONES: The Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Battle of the Somme bears the names of more than 72,000 men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme and have no known grave. Over 90% of those named on the memorial died between July and November 1916. Standing in front of the giant Thiepval Memorial is an Anglo-French tribute that consists of 300 British Commonwealth and 300 French graves. The British Commonwealth graves are marked with rectangular headstones in white stone. On the British headstones is the inscription “A Soldier of the Great War / Known unto God.” The French graves have grey stone crosses. The French crosses bear the single word “Inconnu” (‘unknown’). The cemetery’s Cross of Sacrifice bears the following inscription: “That the world may remember the common sacrifice of two and a half million dead, here have been laid side by side Soldiers of France and of the British Empire in eternal comradeship.”
Shot handheld with a Nikon D40X, Nikkor 18-2oo lens at f14, 1/250 sec., ISO 1600. Photo by John Ecker | pantheon photography
WASHINGTON MONUMENT, WASHINGTON, D.C. This monument is easily one of the most instantly recognizable landmarks in the world. It stands as a tribute to one of America’s greatest presidents. The idea to recognize Washington emerged in the 1780s. The 1791 plan for the new federal city made the monument the center of the action. The obelisk plan was approved in 1836. In 1848 the cornerstone to be laid. Along came the Civil War, further delaying completion. To speed things along, the Army Corps of Engineers took over and completed the project in 1884. The monument was officially dedicated on February 21, 1885.
Shot handheld with a Nikon D300, Nikkor AF-S 10-24mm lens at 15mm, f13, 1/1250 sec., ISO 640. Photograph by John Ecker |
WASHINGTON MONUMENT, WASHINGTON, D.C. The Washington Monument Society selected Robert Mills’ design of this obelisk in 1836. I would take several decades before the monument was finally dedicated on dedicated on February 21, 1885. The monument weights over 80,000 tons. It stands just over 555 feet tall. Walls at the base are 15 feet thick. At the top, they narrow to just 18 inches. The Society ran out of money in 1854 when the monument was just 150 feet tall. Construction stalled for about 25 years. A different quarry supplied the stone. While the two types seemed to match at the time, wind, rain, and erosion have caused the marble sections to weather differently, producing the now pronounced difference in colour. It’s 896 steps to the top of the obelisk. Visitors take an elevator to the observation deck where they can survey the city from the monument’s great height.
Shot handheld with a Nikon D300, Nikkor AF-S 10-24mm lens at 15mm, f13, 1/1250 sec., ISO 640. Image by John Ecker | pantheon photography
FERDINAND FOCH TOMB, PARIS, FRANCE: This is the tomb for Ferdinand Foch. He died on March 20, 1929, and was interred
in Les Invalides, in Paris, near the tomb of Napoleon. Foch is considered to be one of France’s greatest military minds. (He must have been smart; they even named a variety of wine grape after him!) Foch rose quickly through the ranks during World War I and was appointed Supreme Commander of the Allied Armies on March 26, 1918 with the title of ‘Generalissime’ (supreme General). Foch believed that the Treaty of Versailles a “treason” because only the permanent occupation of the Rhineland would prevent future German aggression. As the treaty was being signed Foch reportedly said: “This is not peace. It is an armistice for 20 years.” His words were prophetic. World War II started just twenty years and sixty five days later. The tomb is located one level above that of Napoleon.
Shot handheld with a Nikon D40X, with a Nikkor 70-300mm lens at 127mm, f5.3, 1/15th sec., ISO 800. Image by John Ecker | pantheon photography
Washington Monument and Capitol Dome view from Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C., photo by John Ecker, Pantheon Photography
WASHINGTON MONUMENT AND CAPITOL DOME FROM LINCOLN MEMORIAL: The Washington monument and dome of the Capitol Building be seen in the distance from this photo taken at the Lincoln Memorial. The memorial also provides a commanding view of the reflecting pool and WWII memorial. Construction of the Memorial began on February 12, 1911, Lincoln’s birthday. The magnificent tribute to one of America’s greatest presidents opened on May 30, 1922 with Lincoln’s only surviving child, Robert Todd Lincoln in attendance. A year later, Memorial architect Henry Bacon received a Gold Medal by the American Institute of Architects for his Greek Revival design. The building is constructed of marble and limestone. This photo is taken on the southern wall exterior. The interior southern wall contains the full text of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
Shot handheld with a Nikon D40X, Nikkor AF-S 18-200mm at 18mm, f11, 1/4000 sec., ISO 800, Photo by John Ecker | Pantheon Photography
LINCOLN MEMORIAL, WASHINGTON D.C.: Roughly four million people per year visit the Lincoln Memorial. It’s open 24 hours per day and access is free. During the day, crowds descend on the site and the whole place rattles with noise. But at night and early on many mornings, it’s possible to have time alone to reflect on the impact of this great President. Most photos show the statue of Lincoln from the front. This one was shot in profile. Plaster casts of Lincoln’s face and were used by sculptor Daniel Chester French, making the depiction both accurate and lifelike. The statue itself stands 19 feet tall and is made from Georgia marble.
Shot handheld with a Nikon D40X, Nikkor AF-S 18-200mm at 135mm, f5.6, 1/80 sec., ISO 800, Image by John Ecker | Pantheon Photography
“Four score and seven….” Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C., photo by John Ecker, Pantheon Photography
GETTYSBURG ADDRESS, LINCOLN MEMORIAL, WASHINGTON, D.C. Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is inscribed in the limestone walls of the giant memorial to the great President. Whereas most people, particularly children, readily rush up to the statue of the seated Lincoln in the central part of the memorial, fewer people approach the powerful words carved into the southern wall. They are best read from a distance. Every so often, a child will make the mad dash to stand below the text while parents snap photos of their son or daughter below the famous text. As we all know, the speech begins with “Four score and seven years ago…” What does that mean anyhow? A score is twenty years. Four score is 80. Add seven and you have 87. America’s 16th President gave the speech on Thursday, November 19th, 1863 at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (site of the battle of Gettysburg in early July of that same year). 87 years before President Lincoln’s remarks was the year 1776.
Shot handheld with a Nikon D300, Nikkor AF-S 10-24mm at 22mm, f4.5, 1/15 sec., ISO 640, Photo by John Ecker | Pantheon Photography
THIEPVAL BRITISH MEMORIAL, THIEPVAL, PICARDIE, FRANCE: Britain’s largest World War I memorial is found in northern France near Thiepval in Picardie. The structure was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. Started in 1928, it was completed in four years and inaugurated by the Prince of Wales on July 31st 1932. The battlefield monument required extensive reinforcement to its foundations due to war-time tunneling. The memorial is reserved for missing or unidentified soldiers with no known grave. The Portland Stone piers bear the names of over 72,000 men lost in the Somme battles. Visitors may wonder why there are gaps in the stone between some names. This is because the names of soldiers whose graves were subsequently found are removed from the memorial.
April 17th is an important date in World War I history, so the date of this post is no coincidence. April 17, 1915 was the date of the British assault on Hill 60 when the Brits blew up several mines under German positions. It served as a turning point and was the prelude to the Second Battle of Ypres. This is also the date of the arrival of the 1st Canadian Division in France. On French soil for just five days, the Canadians were moved to the front lines where they found themselves in the biggest defensive fight to that point by Canadian troops. April 17, 1917 is also a momentous if not ignominious date for the French. After France’s disastrous Nivelle Offensive, French infantry started to mutiny in protest of the military leadership and trench conditions. By the time the mutinies subsided several months later, over 35,000 soldiers were found to be involved with 68 out of 112 French divisions affected. Fewer than 3,000 men were punished.
Shot handheld with a Nikon D300, with a Nikkor AF-S 16-85mm lens at 20mm, f25, 1/400th second, ISO 2000. Photo by John Ecker | Pantheon Photography
BEAUMONT-HAMEL, FRANCE, BATTLE OF THE SOMME, 1916. Click here for my story about Beaumont-Hamel. Photo by John Ecker | pantheon photography