Directly south of the White House, the marble Jefferson Memorial stands in tribute to the nation's third president. Architect John Russell Pope modeled it after the Pantheon in Rome, which Thomas Jefferson admired. Dedicated in 1943, a hollow, bronze statue of the philosopher-president sits inside, surrounded by walls inscribed with some of his famous writings, including an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence. The Jefferson Memorial overlooks Washington's scenic man-made lake, the Tidal Basin, where paddle boats dot the placid water on warm days.
Congress authorized the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1980 as a tribute to those who served in one of America's least popular wars. More than 58,000 names -- of those who are missing or lost their lives -- are etched in the black granite panels, which reflect the surrounding trees, as well as the faces of visitors searching for loved ones' names. Maya Ying Lin, who designed the memorial, called it a "moving composition." But upon completion, critics decried the memorial as too stark. The addition of a Frederick Hart statue of three soldiers won many of them over.