The District’s Titanic Memorial

Until recently, one of the best known associations between the name Titanic and the District was a popular Thai restaurant on 14th Street.

That’s changed a bit this year, as today marks one hundred years since the RMS Titanic’s sinking in the icy waters of the northern Atlantic. Many Washingtonians are discovering that the District has had its own memorial to the Titanic tragedy for more than 80 years.

Even for me, the Titanic memorial was more of a trivia fact about the city’s obscure monuments. I had never actually seen it, since my tours rarely go near its location at the Southwest Waterfront.

But yesterday, I visited it for the first time to attend a ceremony commemorating the centennial of the Titanic’s sinking.

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Butterflies in the District

Over the weekend, I discovered a new connection between butterflies and the District – in addition to the Butterfly Pavilion at the Natural History Museum.

I was at a matinee of the opera Madama Butterfly on Sunday, performed by the Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center.

An original poster from an early production of Madama Butterfly.
An original poster from an early production of Madama Butterfly.

The performance was great, and it made me nostalgic for the couple of years I spent living in Japan. It’s set in the city of Nagasaki, which was just a few hours away from the small town where I lived on the island of Kyushu.

I visited Nagasaki several times, including the famous Glover Garden overlooking Nagasaki Bay. It’s attached to the oldest Western house still

standing in Nagasaki, whose Scottish owner married a Japanese woman and was said to have inspired the short story Madame Butterfly. It was later turned into a play, and finally the opera by Italian composer Giacomo Puccini.

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