I am also a member of the DC temple family - my wife attended the dedication as
a teenager, and I visited from afar on temple trips as a teen, later marrying in
the temple, and spending years traveling from the East over the hill at Georgia
Avenue and always both delighting in the triumphant view as the temple suddenly
looms into view, and at the same time chuckling at the "surrender
dorothy" graffiti. I have sent this nostalgic article to parents and my
wife to disseminate to her parents serving a mission overseas and I am sure it
will raise a fond smile for each of them. While my dad always belabored
graffiti as "Fools names in public places", that piece always brought
chuckles and became part of the lore of the Beltway and a light laugh in what
could often be a frustrating and tense drive during inclement weather or rush
hour (6:30-10:00 a.m, and 2:00 -7:00 pm, in those days.)I am pretty
"up-tight," reverent and respectful most times - this was clever in
its inception, and delightful in its persistence!Thanks for the
article, linked pictures, and the fond memories.
The different temples are fascinating to us for many reasons, especially the
early ones where so much was sacrificed by so many.We especially enjoy
visiting the unique ones in Utah when we visit family.Being non-LDS,
we are very happy with the Angel Moroni adorning as many as possible. It
certifies that these temples are distinctly LDS, for those who don't know
exactly what the buildings are for.The day that a Cross of our Lord
is put on one will be a huge game changer for Biblical Christians in that
community, however. As the apostle Paul clarified to believers in Corinth,
where a large diversity of religions existed:"For the message of the
Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved
it is the power of God."(1 Cor. 1:18,30). Distinctions can be
helpful when we need clarification but don't want disunity.
I have always smiled at the graffiti even as I am awed by the sight of the
temple from the beltway. Truly an inspired location. When I hung up a
picture of the temple in my home my non member niece saw it and asked "is
that tomorrow land?" (she is a Disney fanatic). I looked at the picture,
looked at her and answered "yeah, you could say that!"
I for one find no offense over "surrender Dorothy". They are not
defacing the temple and from the video I can see where that came about. It also
looks like the castle at Disney World. It looks like a beautiful temple and I
would love to see it some day... even the "Surrender Dorothy". As far as the remark about the architect of the San Diego Temple. There
were a few architects for that temple from what I have heard in the past. My
friends brother was one of them. Maybe I am wrong, but I do remember him being
an architect and yes he is LDS. She has a numbered drawing of the temple,
because it is one that he got for being the architect. If I'm wrong sorry, but
I'm pretty sure that I am not. Fun story, loved it! It was worth
@maryquilter:I am acutely aware that not "all" in Utah are
prudish, but many "appear" to eschew any laughter or
"lightmindedness" under all circumstances, regardless of the
hysterically funny pranks/jokes. The San Diego Temple is indeed a beautiful
edifice and the "architect" is indeed not LDS, but actually team of
three architects. It was our temple until very recently, and we have heard all
of the complimentary landmark references (all in good natured jest and in good
taste)since the temple was built and dedicated. I for one would LOVE a photo of
"Surrender Dorothy" with the DC Temple in the background, think it
would be great!
I think this is terrific! What a clever and humorous prank! Kudos to the people
who have kept it going all these years. To the stick-in-the-mud Utah mormons who
disapprove- lighten up! This prank is neither offensive nor sacreligious. No-one
has defaced the temple or denegrated what happens there. To the pranksters- be
careful and carry on!
In fact when the Washington DC temple was built only a minority of temples had a
statue of the angle Moroni. I think it was only the third, after Salt Lake and
Los Angeles, put I might be missing one or two others. Still it was well under
half of the 15 temples then in existence.
This article seems a way to perpetuate truly stupid and negative things.
However since it is reporting on the fact that the Washington Post writes
articles on truly stupid and negative things, it is really not a drawback to the
article. Graffiti is never funny, only stupid, destructuive and negative.
@ garybeac Not all LDS temples face east and (although you didn't bring it up)
not all temples have an Angel Moroni either. Which makes one wonder if you
really know what you're saying about the other engineering and architectural
issues regarding placement on the property. Just sayin'.
I grew up with the washington dc temple as "my temple" and my friends
used to have all kinds of jokes about the wizard of oz. it's just funny. it's
not as if anyone is spatupainting the temple itself and if you don't know it's
coming the temple really blows your mind as you drive along the beltway.
For those of us with LDS families but in Biblical denominations ourselves, every
Moroni-spired temple is an Oz-landian experience. Imagine our shock in the
early '90's when we were headed to the opening of the San Diego temple and
stopped for directions: The local gas attendant said, "You mean that
big Muslim-looking, pagan gold-topped cathedral thing that jumps out at you in
about 3 miles? You'll know you're close when you swear you missed the turn and
are approaching the Excalibur in Vegas".Beauty truly is in the
eye of the beholder.
Glad I stumbled on your fun article. Just sent the link to our kids in DC. I
saw the DC temple on my first trip to DC last month. We came thru a wooded area
in the evening. I was surprised how few patrons were there. A coordinator told
me it's not as busy like earlier days when it was opened 24 hrs from early Thu
am to Sat night. After all, it served members east of the Miss river, and as
far away as S America! Think how many temples have been dedicated in those
areas since that time. The Visitors center is also very incredible. First
class! A host told me they receive a lot of important guests from around the
world who while visiting DC, include their trip a visit to see the DC temple.
Later that night we drove away from the temple on a freeway then reversed our
direction to enjoy the famous "freeway" view. It really does look
like it's floating in the sky! Very impressive in deed. And why shouldn't it,
after all it is A House of the Lord!
The placement of the Washington temple is a MIRACLE. Many people think that it
was planned. I have even read articles stating this as a fact. However, the
planners of the beltway did not put that hill and that curve there for any
reason other than engineering practicality, and the temple simply faces east, as
do all the temples. No formal survey of the site was conducted to confirm that
anything like this would be the outcome prior to the land's being purchased. It
was understood that the temple would be visible from the beltway, but no one had
any idea of the final effect until the architectural plans were completed. Even
then, moving the temple back a few hundred feet was considered when concerns
were raised about the distraction that car headlights might be. "Surrender
Dorothy" means many things to many people, but none of them can dilute the
inspiration of that view to all who are looking for something to lift their
hearts and minds. For our family, "Surrender, Dorothy" is a call to
leave the cares and disappointments of this world. And if that doesn't make you
laugh with joy, you just don't get it.
As is well known, wicked witches are sticklers for proper grammar and
punctuation. Thus, if WW of the W had been directing Dorothy herself to
surrender, she would have certainly written her message as "Surrender,
Dorothy." Since she instead wrote "Surrender Dorothy" it is
clear that WW of the W was writing to the people of the EC.(You get
to EC after passing from Crystal City, Virginia (CC) north through DC.)
TO: EgbertThrockmorton: Please, not all us in Utah are prudish sourpusses who
can't recognize a good joke when they see one. I love a good belly laugh and
plenty of lightmindedness when appropriate. If the graffiti had been painted
directly onto the temple and private property I would be upset, but it really is
a great joke. The inspiring feeling of driving around the beltway and seeing
the beautifully lit temple in DC is the same feeling I get when coming around
the corner on the freeway outside San Diego, CA, when I see that temple at
night. By the by, the architect of the temple in San Diego is not LDS. Whether
LDS or not, I think anyone should be able to appreciate the beauty of the
temples and their grounds; toss in a good joke and it's all perfect.
THANK ALL OF YOU WHO HAVE GIVEN ME A "LIGHT-HEARTED TAKE" ON THE
SITUATION. I am a retired Temple OW and believe me, it's the most peaceful,
beautiful place on Earth. EVERY CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saint
Temple is a "fountain" where a worthy TR card-carrying member of the
Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints renews her/his solemn promise made
at Baptism to Serve the Lord in all one's days on Earth.
For me, the phrase that appropriately comes to mind is: "Pay no attention
to that man behind the curtain!"
I grew up in the DC area, and didn't join the church until I was in college. I
remember when I was a kid, seeing the temple rise up from the trees as you turn
that corner on the beltway, like Cinderella's magical castle. We always referred
to it as "the castle" whenever we saw it, as in "here comes the
castle", and it seemed like a magical place. It's just beautiful.
Approaching the DC Temple from the east is indeed a breathtaking experience. If
your view isn't obstructed by a high-profile vehicle, the temple literally
appears to rise up out of the roadway ahead. The first time I saw it, I was
simply awestruck. My friend who was driving said, "I think that guy you
have crush on belongs to that church." Within two years, I was inside that
beautiful temple being sealed to that very man. We used to make the nearly
two-hour drive for FHE every couple of years to show our kids how the temple
rises up out of the Beltway. One of our favorite family photos was taken by a
helpful passerby at the little wall in front of the Visitor's Center w/ the
gleaming temple in the background - tiny kids now all grown up. In about two
weeks we'll be taking our daughter there to receive her own endowment and be
sealed to her own special guy. But I've got to say that in all these 25 years,
I've only seen "Surrender Dorothy" maybe twice. It's not as chronic as
one might suppose from reading this article.
As to the Wicked Witch of the West's skywriting diction, she is actually quite
correct in her use of "SURRENDER DOROTHY" in that she is obviously
commanding the citizens of the Emerald City to turn Dorothy over to her, thus
using a mandative verb form. Given her propensity to boss her flying monkeys
around, it fits her character quite well.
@ Gosh-DUH | 8:10 a.m. July 27, 2011"Please enlighten me."The graffiti is not isolated on the bridge. It is a graffiti on the
whole panoramic view of the Temple, greenery and the experience of coming around
the bend and seeing it all before you. Think of it like a caption on a
photograph. Hope this enlightens. :-)P.S. Besides
"Graffiti on CSX railway bridge done as a prank to comment on the
Washington D.C. Temple won't die" is just too long for a headline.
I used to live in the D.C. area. No matter how many time I drove that stretch of
the beltway, I was always awed by the sight of the temple suddenly looming over
the trees and always smiled at the "Surrender Dorothy" scrawled on the
overpass. Definitely one of the most inspired pranks of all time.
As a DC area mormon, I find the graffitti quite amusing and charming even. I
think the Church should get permission from the city to put up a permanent, well
painted mural-like "Surrender Dorothy" on that bridge.Growing up I loved to see that message as we passed by.
Please enlighten me. the title of the news article is "D.C. Temple
graffiti...". but this sentence in the article, That graffito (singular of
graffiti) was on a CSX railway bridge..."so when did this CSX
railway bridge become part of the Washington D.C. Temple?
When I have visited the area, it is absolutely breathtaking to see how the
temple rises up and you go along. Brilliant selection of real estate, I must
say! And yes, we can take a joke!
I don't appreciate the supposed humor that is being used to denograte the
Temple. There will always be human beings who have nothing to do but discolor
the good and beautiful to draw attention to themselves. Those I feel sorry for.
If I am remembering correctly, there was an article in either TIME or NEWSWEEK
at the time of the temple dedication in which the temple was referred to as a
"marbled OZ". It is an impressive sight; one I always enjoyed for the
5 years we lived in the D.C. area.
DC is "my" temple. no matter how many times i travel towards it on the
Beltway, i never get over the joy and awe of seeing the temple literally rise up
and appear before me. sorta like the joy and gratitude a sailor must feel seeing
the beacon of a lighthouse in a raging sea.
I have a friend who lives in the area of the Washington D.C Temple (who happens
to be Jewish). In our conversations he will frequently remind me that those who
live in the area refer to the temple as the 'Emerald City' and do so with
Although funny to me since I never heard the story before, I have to agree with
weston jurney at 3:22. Any joke told often enough, becomes more nuisance than
"Also, just to be obvious, although the prank is funny, it probably isn't
worth risking your life or committing a crime to do it. Probably."My thoughts exactly!Why don't they just remove the paint... then
have a camera or something and wait until the person returns? I've seen lesser
things funded by police than even that.
@Weston Jurney | 3:22 p.m.: I think the original message in the script was
"Surrender Dorothy or Die. WWW" That seems to imply that they were
asking the city or Wizard to give her up.By the way, somebody
submitted a comment identifying someone who possibly could be one of the people
who painted "Surrender Dorothy" on the bridge. We can't really put
those up here, but if you have a lead, feel free to e-mail it to me at
firstname.lastname@example.org.Also, just to be obvious, although the prank
is funny, it probably isn't worth risking your life or committing a crime to do
Humor is lost on native Utahns, it's not appropriate to have loud laughter or
light-mindedness at such a hysterically FUNNY prank! Good for the pranksters, at
least it's POSITIVE actions and not actually on the temple grounds or the temple
itself. Take it as a compliment of the highest order.
I always wondered about the witch's syntax. Was she saying, "People of
Emerald City, surrender that girl Dorothy that you are harboring?" Or did
she mean something like, "Surrender yourself, Dorothy, and maybe I'll only
turn you into a newt?"But any joke ceases to be funny after
I love the part in the Youtube video where the mom says, "Almost
home!" and the daughter responds, "Mom, we don't want people knowing
where we live." I've been to D.C. once and never had the delight of seeing
the temple, but someday I hope to. The description of seeing it while driving
on that expressway is enough to give me chills!The prank reminds me
of this spot on University Parkway in Provo where plastic cups are used to spell
out messages in an overpass's chainlink fence. My husband commented yesterday
on his personal favorite, which appeared right after the takedown of Osama Bin
Laden: "Osama Got Jimmered."
Too funny. Today, I was talking with a freind here in Serbia and he said all
his freinds in DC call the temple the Magic Kingdom, since in his eyes, it looks
like the castle from Disneyland. ??? Ehh...??? It certainly is a sight to
behold on the freeway heading east.
This prank will never die. It's too perfect.
What a fun story, it is always fun to read about strange urban history..........