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Jefferson Memorial Dedicated

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Marine guards at the Jefferson Memorial, 1943. Library of Congress Image.

Today is the 70th anniversary of the dedication of the Jefferson Memorial. On 13 April 1943, the 200th anniversary of Jefferson’s birth, President Roosevelt addressed a crowd of 20,000 assembled for the dedication. During the ceremony at the memorial, the Declaration of Independence was displayed (during the war it was housed at the Bullion Depository in Ft. Knox, Kentucky along with other American cultural treasures).

Plans for a memorial to Jefferson began in 1934. The Tidal Basin site was chosen because of its angle to the White House despite  protests surrounding the removal of dozens of cherry trees to make room for the memorial. Eleanor Roosevelt stated in her “My Day” column:  It is beginning to look very beautiful and someday, when the cherry trees around it bloom in great profusion, people will forget that we were ever afraid of spoiling the landscape around the Basin.


1947. National Park Service Image.


The Jefferson Memorial was also subject to wartime shortages; the statue put in place in 1943 was made of plaster , a placeholder until bronze was readily available for use. The bronze statue of Jefferson was completed and added in 1947.Post by Curator Kimberly Guise.

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