By Hitee Singh
Back in Time is ED’s newspaper type column that reports an incident from the past as though it has happened just yesterday. It allows the reader to re-live it several years later, on the date it had occurred.
For this incident, we go back in time to 1885.
Washington DC, Saturday, 21st February- After 37 years of wait, Washington Monument was dedicated to General George Washington, who was once the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army and the first American president.
The Monument is an obelisk on the National Mall in the capital constructed to commemorate George Washington. It is both the world’s tallest stone structure and the world’s tallest obelisk, standing 169.046 m tall. Its construction began in 1848 but had to be paused from 1854 to 1877 due to shortage of funds, a struggle for control over the Washington National Monument Society, and the American Civil War. It still requires finishing from inside and is not opened to public yet.
Despite being an exceptionally cold and windy day, the Dedication saw a footfall of more than 800 people, which took place on the monument grounds.
“First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen.” President Chester Alan Arthur opened his dedicating speech with this line as he remembered the first American President and his service to his country.
Other dignitaries who delivered a speech at this event were Ohio Senator John Sherman, the Rev. Henderson Suter and Freemason Myron M. Parker. William Wilson Corcoran, of the Washington National Monument Society, was absent and his speech was read by Dr. James C. Welling.
It was succeeded by a brief Masonic ceremony and a speech by the Engineer of the Monument, Col. Thomas Lincoln Casey of the Army Corps of Engineers.
Following the speeches, Lieutenant-General Philip Sheridan led a procession, which included the dignitaries and the crowd, past the Executive Mansion, then via Pennsylvania Avenue to the east main entrance of the Capitol, where President Arthur received passing troops.
Then, in the Executive Mansion the President, his Cabinet, diplomats and others listened to Representative John Davis Long read a speech written a few months earlier by Robert C. Winthrop, who was the Speaker of the House of Representatives when the cornerstone was laid 37 years earlier. He couldn’t make it because of his illness.
The final speech was given by John W. Daniel, governor of Virginia. George Washington was born in the state of Virginia. The festivities concluded with fireworks, both aerial and ground displays.