In a recent visit to DC I went to many of the monuments and memorials and noticed that more than half of the people visiting were sitting on the monument/memorial touching, or rubbing it. All of these things can destroy a monument or memorial. Do people not realize that memorials and monuments - no matter how close to the ground - are art works dedicated to a person, group of people, or place in time? That is why I have prepared this primer on how to behave when visiting memorials and monuments - in Washington D.C. or in your own town.
1. Keep discussions to a soft voice. For instance, people visiting a certain monument/memorial might be reflecting or thinking about a loved one lost or that time in their lives. Another reason to keep your voice down is that some monuments/memorials are meant to be heard such as the FDR memorial in Washington D.C. For example, the FDR memorial uses water to symbolize different times during in office such as calm waters and rough waters. If you can not hear the water or any other sound that the artist created for that monument/memorial for the effect you will not get the whole story of that monument/memorial.
2. Do not touch any of the sculptures in the monument or memorial. While sitting on FDR's lap may seem like a cute picture it is very disrespectful. All memorials and monuments are works of art and by touching or sitting on them you damage damage the sculpture by taking a varnish off or even breaking it. You may not consider touching something damaging it, but your fingers and hands contain nasty bacterias and oils that can - over time - destroy stone, concrete and even metals like copper.
3. Respect other people who are visiting the monuments and memorials. This may seem like common sense but many people do not respect others when visiting these sacred sites. Do not walk in front of, stand in front of, or shove people. If you see people coming up to where you are standing move to a side of the monument instead of monopolizing it. If everyone act courteous of others everyone can have an enjoyable time.
Our nation's history is immortalized in monuments and memorials nationwide and if we all pay a little more respect maybe we can learn from the events and people they were designed to preserve the memory of. They are meant for everyone to remember and share in the experience. Just remember your manners when you go and visit them.