Did you know that the 30-foot-tall Martin Luther King Jr. statue on the National Mall was sculpted by a Chinese artist? Are you surprised that the Roosevelt Memorial appears to omit a statue of FDR in a wheelchair?

You can get the whole story at 3:30 p.m. next Thursday when the Arizona Senior Academy presents Chuck Tampio discussing "Washington Memorials: What American Public Art Reveals About Our Nation and Ourselves."

According to Tampio, it's ironic that virtually every memorial in our nation's capital was born amid controversy, sparking intense and often bitter debate. He examines why this is so, and will cover the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Roosevelt Memorial, the new Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial and several others.

Another of Tampio's observations is that while D.C.'s memorials and monuments are much appreciated by Americans, they are not well understood or examined critically in terms of artistic merit or narrative content.

A Syracuse University graduate, Tampio worked for 25 years at the Close Up Foundation, eventually becoming its vice president. Close Up is a not-for-profit organization that takes high school students to Washington for an in-depth learning experience about our government, including extensive tours of the capital.

Later Tampio became president of the Washington-based international Earth Force program until his retirement in 2007. Earth Force operates to foster nations where young people from all walks of life are active in making positive changes to the environment in their schools and neighborhoods in partnership with local community governments.

Since moving to Arizona, Tampio has become a docent at the Tucson Museum of Art and the UA Museum of Art. An avid rider who keeps several horses on his east-side property, he takes every opportunity to explore Arizona trails on horseback.

Due to the increasing popularity of Arizona Senior Academy educational and cultural events, non-residents who wish to ensure priority seating are advised to make advance reservations by emailing info@arizonasenioracademy.org

If you go

• What: "Washington Memorials: What American Public Art Reveals About Our Nation and Ourselves"

• When: 3:30 p.m. Thursday (April 26)

• Where: Arizona Senior Academy Building at Academy Village, 13715 E. Langtry Lane

• Admission: Free; donations accepted

• Reservations: Recommended; email info@arizonasenioracademy.org or call 647-0980

To contribute a story, go online to azstarnet.com/east