Discover Bethesda, Maryland...365 Days a Year!

Day 52: Ma, We're Movin West!

Madonna of the Trail

Have you ever been bumper-to-bumper stuck in traffic and because you’re not going over the speed limit as usual you happen to notice things you may have never seen?  Today’s blog is just such a sight.  I’ve passed this statue at least 1,000 times and never gave it much thought until an unusually busy morning.  Right next to the Bethesda Post Office located at 7400 Wisconsin Avenue is an 18′ tall pinkish statue of a strong woman, a gun barrel in hand with one child clutched to her breast, and another gripped tightly to her long dress.  The Madonna of the Trail statue is one of twelve monuments commissioned by the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution that extend from Maryland to California along the National Old Trails Road.  The National Old Trails Road, also known as the Oceans-to-Oceans Highway, was a 2,448 mile long highway that began in New York City, came through Baltimore and Bethesda, and eventually made its way through the southwest, on what would become the famous Route 66 highway, until it made its way to the Pacific shores of California.

In 1928 these monuments were dedicated in 12 different states to commemorate the courage, faith, and commitment of the women who helped conquer the wild west and pioneer the expansion of our country.  Judge Harry Truman (future U.S. President) remarked at a dedication ceremony that “They were just as brave if not braver than their men because, they went with sad hearts and trembling bodies.  They went, however, and braved every hardship that befalls a pioneer.”

The sculptor August Leimbach wanted to capture a pioneer woman, believing her husband was in danger after his failure to return as promised from an expedition, sweeping up her children and beginning to venture out, stone-faced, in search of their father with firearm in hand –ready to take on whatever she had to face.  Can you imagine?  We have it so cushy!  Ooooooh it’s going to snow 2″ and I might run out of CoffeeMate!  I better call the sitter to watch the kids and hop in my car and brave throngs of people at the supermarket before the first flake hits my hand-detailed luxury SUV.  This statue is a reminder to us all that progress of any kind is made because people have the courage to step out of their comfort zone, take a risk, grit their teeth through difficult times, and forge ahead.  Madonna, my hat’s off to you!  You make me smile every time the light turns red in front of the post office.  Thank you.         ~Brian

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