"We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” These words penned by Thomas Jefferson in 1776 have inspired Americans and others around the world for generations. The primary author of the Declaration of Independence, Diplomat, Secretary, Vice President, and third President of the United States is immortalized here on the south side of the Tidal Basin directly south of the house he inhabited from 1801 to 1809. Embodying his love of architecture and the dome specifically, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial is modeled off of the Pantheon in Rome, Italy. Surrounding the nineteen foot, bronze statue of Jefferson in the rotunda of the memorial are selections of writings from Jefferson’s life covering topics from religious freedom to public education. Here we remember the man who put into words the emotions felt by Americans at the dawn of our nation. The words in this memorial speak to America’s idea that freedom is a right. It provokes reflection and discussion on the relationship between people and their government then and now. With this memorial we reflect on an architect of our republic and the values on which our nation was founded.
Park Ranger Jeff Jones briefly describes the significance of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.