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Thomas Jefferson Memorial

Thomas Jefferson-political philosopher, architect, musician, book collector, scientist, horticulturist, diplomat, inventor, and third President of the United States-looms large in any discussion of what Americans are as a people. Jefferson left to the future not only ideas but also a great body of practical achievements. President John F. Kennedy recognized Jefferson's accomplishments when he told a gathering of American Nobel Prize winners that they were the greatest assemblage of talent in the White House since Jefferson had dinner there alone. With his strong beliefs in the rights of man and a government derived from the people, in freedom of religion and the separation between church and state, and in education available to all. Thomas Jefferson struck a chord for human liberty 200 years ago that resounds through the decades. But in the end, Jefferson's own appraisal of his life, and the one that he wrote for use on his own tombstone, suffices: "Author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom, and Father of the University of Virginia.

A Fitting Memorial

While visiting the Jefferson Memorial, one will find it situated in an outdoor setting that probably would have delighted Thomas Jefferson. Surrounding the marble, domed structure are plants and trees which grow natively in Jefferson's home state of Virginia. The capital city's most treasured natural specimens, the flowering Japanese Cherry trees, decorate the pathways that lead visitors to the Jefferson Memorial.

Nature brought personal happiness and satisfaction to Thomas Jefferson. "Too many scenes of happiness mingle themselves with all the recollections of my native woods and fields…" he once said about his beloved Monticello. The fields and farms were Jefferson's real home. Here, he spent hours of his life walking through the woods, cultivating plants, and taking notes on a natural world that amazed him.

Information provided by National Park Service