D.C. Temple graffiti prank won't die

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  • 1Infidel APO, AE
    July 31, 2011 9:50 a.m.

    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.

  • OnlytheCross Bakersfield, CA
    July 29, 2011 12:50 p.m.

    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.

  • teri88 Spotswood, NJ
    July 29, 2011 11:07 a.m.

    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!"

  • azgirl60 MESA, AZ
    July 29, 2011 12:02 a.m.

    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 reading.

  • EgbertThrockmorton Layton, UT
    July 28, 2011 6:46 p.m.

    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!

  • Juli3113 BAKERSFIELD, CA
    July 28, 2011 1:44 p.m.

    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!

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    July 28, 2011 1:11 a.m.

    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.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    July 28, 2011 1:03 a.m.

    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.

  • Oh, please! Saint George, UT
    July 27, 2011 10:00 p.m.

    @ 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'.

  • just-a-fan Bountiful, UT
    July 27, 2011 7:18 p.m.

    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.

  • OnlytheCross Bakersfield, CA
    July 27, 2011 3:54 p.m.

    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.

  • AZhombre Mesa, AZ
    July 27, 2011 3:27 p.m.

    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!

  • garybeac Chapel Hill, NC
    July 27, 2011 2:40 p.m.

    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.

  • Zadruga Guy West Jordan, UT
    July 27, 2011 1:24 p.m.

    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.)

  • Maryquilter Farmington, UT
    July 27, 2011 12:49 p.m.

    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.

  • Mom_Geologist Dave Kearns, UT
    July 27, 2011 12:43 p.m.

    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.

  • moniker lewinsky Taylorsville, UT
    July 27, 2011 11:40 a.m.

    For me, the phrase that appropriately comes to mind is: "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!"

  • salsabugs OAK CITY, UT
    July 27, 2011 11:29 a.m.

    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.

  • easternobserver Denton, MD
    July 27, 2011 11:26 a.m.

    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.

  • Clint Gardner SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    July 27, 2011 11:01 a.m.

    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.

  • Michael De Groote
    July 27, 2011 10:50 a.m.

    @ 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.

  • cuscoln Santa Fe, NM
    July 27, 2011 10:27 a.m.

    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.

    July 27, 2011 10:05 a.m.

    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.

  • Gosh-DUH Burlington, CT
    July 27, 2011 8:10 a.m.

    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?

    July 27, 2011 7:34 a.m.

    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!

  • suzyk#1 Mount Pleasant, UT
    July 27, 2011 7:30 a.m.

    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.

  • Bruce T. Forbes Kearns, UT
    July 27, 2011 5:01 a.m.

    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.

  • mtgrantlass Camden Wyoming, DE
    July 26, 2011 7:47 p.m.

    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.

  • Encouraged Sacramento, CA
    July 26, 2011 7:02 p.m.

    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 fondness.

  • Hawkyo SYRACUSE, UT
    July 26, 2011 6:07 p.m.

    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 humor.

  • A voice of Reason Salt Lake City, UT
    July 26, 2011 5:32 p.m.

    "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.

  • Michael De Groote
    July 26, 2011 4:15 p.m.

    @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 mdegroote@desnews.com.

    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.

  • EgbertThrockmorton Layton, UT
    July 26, 2011 3:54 p.m.

    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.

  • Weston Jurney West Jordan, UT
    July 26, 2011 3:22 p.m.

    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 enough retellings.

  • katiefrankie Provo, UT
    July 26, 2011 3:19 p.m.

    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."

  • ER in EUR Belgrade, Serbia
    July 26, 2011 3:15 p.m.

    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.

  • byronbca Salt Lake City, UT
    July 26, 2011 2:54 p.m.

    This prank will never die. It's too perfect.

  • Silly Rabbit Small Town, USA, UT
    July 26, 2011 2:52 p.m.

    What a fun story, it is always fun to read about strange urban history..........