National World War II Memorial, Washington D.C.

This week we are in Washington DC on vacation!

While this technically doesn’t count as a cemetery, this memorial along the Mall was of interest to me because a few years ago I met Nick Benson, stone carver from the John Stevens Shop in Newport, RI.

The John Stevens Shop has been in operation since 1705, and numerous articles and gravestone afficiandos have detailed stones in Newport – and much farther! – made from the shop. Today the shop is under the direction of Nick Benson, and the shop still handcarves lettering on stones.

During a course at Brown University, AC125 Gravestones and Burying Grounds, Nick Benson was a guest lecturer where he discussed the shop, as well as his recent undertaking – working in Washington DC where he carved on the National World War II Memorial. An interview with Nick Benson discusses the experience, and the John Stevens Shop website features excellent photographs of the process.

While I had never thought much about the physical carving of gravestones or monuments, after meeting with Nick I keep my eyes open for his – and the Shop’s – signature style. It is remarkable to consider how the stonecarving tradition has been passed on throughout generations, across years and apprenticeships. The carving is beautiful, and all the more interesting when one considers the labor involved.

The WWII Monument is well-placed along the Mall, between the Washington and Lincoln Memorials. It is spacious and well-designed, and tourists (myself included!) enjoy taking photographs along each of the sections dedicated to individual states.

From Nick Benson’s visit to AC125:

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