There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
The obelisks, avenging angels, warriors on horseback, and Greek temples that dot this city’s skyline and streetscapes are largely taken for granted by those of us who live here. But University of North Carolina Professor Jeffrey Meyer looks at the monuments and statuary of Washington, D.C., with the eye of an anthropologist. His latest book, Myths in Stone, explores the messages embedded in our architecture, from the eternal flame at Arlington to the paintings chosen to hang in the Capitol. (He also reveals that the Ellipse was built on the site of a swamp “created by sewage from the executive mansion.”) Meyer goes a long way to give us a sense of our civil religion (that is, a government that evolved from a mix of the Greco-Roman democracies that influenced our 17th- and 18th-century founders and the Judeo-Christian tradition those founders came from) while describing the Capital City as nothing short of a huge graveyard. To Meyer, each memorial celebrates the “honored dead” but at the same time calls up the unexorcised ghosts that still haunt the memories of the American people: “There are ghosts aplenty to receive the continuous attention of multitudes of pious visitors each year.” Meyer speaks at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 29, at the National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW. $12. (202) 272-2448. (Robin Dougherty)