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Yellow Roses (Georges Danset)
Yellow Roses (Georges Danset)
Jefferson Memorial Cherry Blossoms (Paul McGehee)

"Jefferson Memorial Cherry Blossoms" by Paul McGehee. The waters of the Tidal Basin in our Nation's Capital, Washington, DC, are lined along the shore with beautiful Japanese flowering cherry trees, known as "Sakura". The colorful cherry blossoms each Spring attract thousands of tourists to DC. The first two trees were originally planted in 1912, a symbolic gift to the people of the United States from the people of Japan (trees continued to be planted up until 1920 around the Tidal Basin). As a reciprocal gesture, President Taft gifted Japan with flowering dogwood trees in 1915. As years went by, the trees were attracting so many to Washington that it was planned to celebrate them with an annual Cherry Blossom Festival each Spring during their peak time of blooming. The first Festival was held in 1935. Around this same time period, a big plan for the tree-lined shoreline of East Potomac Park was starting to take shape, construction of the majestic memorial to President Thomas Jefferson. This was an ambitious project spearheaded by then-President Franklin Roosevelt. One of President Franklin Roosevelt's personal heroes was founding father Thomas Jefferson, the 3rd President of the United States. Jefferson had served as Virginia's representative to the Continental Congress, and drafted the Declaration of Independence which became the rallying point for the founding of our nation. He had served as Vice President under a man he initially ran against, John Adams. And he had been Washington's Secretary of State. Jefferson, a brilliant man, a writer, musician, inventor, was also a gifted architect. In the 1930's a plan was put in place to construct a grand memorial to Jefferson the President, the statesman, the man. Land was set aside (which was once designated for a monument to Roosevelt's cousin, Theodore Roosevelt) for the Jefferson Memorial project. In 1935, one of the nation's top architects, John Russell Pope, was tapped for the important project, which was to incorporate tributes to Jefferson's designs and those of more classical elements. Jefferson's designs for the University of Virginia and his own home Monticello, were liberally quoted in the plan for the Memorial. On a chilly day in December, 1938, President Roosevelt broke ground for the Jefferson Memorial, broadcast live nationally on radio. A year later, the cornerstone was placed. Construction began and continued through some of the darkest days of World War II. On April 13, 1943, FDR officially dedicated the Jefferson Memorial. It's a beautiful place, with many quotes from Jefferson displayed within the open air structure of its rotunda...originally a temporary plaster figure of Jefferson stood within, as the giant bronze by Rudolph Evans was not yet complete. The final, full-figure bronze statue of Thomas Jefferson, standing 20' tall, on top of a 6' pedestal, was installed in 1947, two years after the death of Franklin Roosevelt. In more recent years, the Memorial went through a period of physical decline and has lately been the subject of a massive restoration project that they are just now putting the finishing touches to. Once again the gleaming white dome of the Jefferson Memorial will preside over the riot of color that is the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, and will forever preside over our Nation's Capital as a reminder of the legacy of one of our country's most important founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence...where it all began, for the United States of America. "Jefferson Memorial Cherry Blossoms" is faithfully reproduced as an archival-quality print from McGehee's original artwork, each hand-signed by the artist. Print image size 10 3/4" x 17".

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