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World War II Memorial

Updated on March 5, 2014

Memorial to the Greatest Generation

My Dad was part of the greatest generation, one described as those who lived and fought during World War II. The World War II Memorial in Washington DC is an awe inspiring sight and represents the blood, sweat and sacrifice the brave men and women of the US military gave for their country.

Soldiers, Marines, Sailers, and Airmen came from all walks of life, from all 50 states, many volunteered, and many like my Dad, lied about their age to enter into battle at the tender age of 16 or 17. In 2010 I had an opportunity to visit Washington DC when my kids local school was invited to march in the Memorial Day parade. What a time to visit our nations capital.

What surprised me most was the sheer size of the Memorial, it may of been late in coming, but the tribute to our veterans at this site is incredible, the symbolism and extra touches given brought a tear to my eyes. I only wish my Dad was still alive so I could take him, but he died in 1995, before the Memorial was finished and long before the Honor Flights to DC were started. So here is the tribute to my Dad, a great man, I wish I knew you more, I wish you had lived to get the honor you deserved.

All photographs are mine, and taken during the trip.

History of the WWII Memorial

In 1993 President Clinton authorized the American battle Monuments Commission to create a World War II Memorial in Washington, DC. A fund raising campaign was led by then Senator Bob Dole, a World War II veteran who received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

Hundreds of thousands of of veterans, families, veterans associations and the American public donated $197 million, the project cam in under budget at $182 million and the remainder was held in trust to solely benefit the World War II Memorial. This means the memorial belongs to our World War II veterans, and was a gift to them by the American people.

It sits on 7.4 acres in Area A of the Washington DC mall between the Washington Monument and the Capital building. It is accessible from all sides and was designed for people to sit, reflect, and remember those who fought for world freedom against tyranny and oppression.

Images from the WWII Memorial

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Archway that depicts the Pacific theater during WWIIEach tower at the memorial is 17 feet tallEach stars represents 100 Americas who died in WWIILooking towards the Washington MemorialMemorial Day is a wonderful time to visit Washington DCMy daughter and a friend at the WWII MemorialTo me, this represents my Dad, who served in WWII and went to serve in the Korean conflict. These stars are etched throughout the memorial landingsKilroy was here.My son standing next to the Wall of Freedom. Little did I know then he would join US Marines and some day be guarding US embassies around the world.
The Archway that depicts the Pacific theater during WWII
The Archway that depicts the Pacific theater during WWII
Each tower at the memorial is 17 feet tall
Each tower at the memorial is 17 feet tall
Each stars represents 100 Americas who died in WWII
Each stars represents 100 Americas who died in WWII
Looking towards the Washington Memorial
Looking towards the Washington Memorial
Memorial Day is a wonderful time to visit Washington DC
Memorial Day is a wonderful time to visit Washington DC
My daughter and a friend at the WWII Memorial
My daughter and a friend at the WWII Memorial
To me, this represents my Dad, who served in WWII and went to serve in the Korean conflict. These stars are etched throughout the memorial landings
To me, this represents my Dad, who served in WWII and went to serve in the Korean conflict. These stars are etched throughout the memorial landings
Kilroy was here.
Kilroy was here.
My son standing next to the Wall of Freedom. Little did I know then he would join US Marines and some day be guarding US embassies around the world.
My son standing next to the Wall of Freedom. Little did I know then he would join US Marines and some day be guarding US embassies around the world.

Interesting Facts About the WWII Memorial - Symbolic representations of WWII

All throughout the memorial are symbolic representations of World War II and the 16 million who served in the Armed Forces during the this monumental and pivotal event in world history. From the number of pillars to the stars on the wall and even Kilroy drawn on the back wall. All represent the spirit, commitment, and sacrifice of the American people abroad and back on the homefront.

  • 56 Pillars represent the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories that existed during the period of WWII
  • Two 43 foot Archway Pavillions represent the Pacific Theater and the Atlantic Theater of Operations.
  • "Kilroy was here" is engraved on two different areas of the Memorial that represents the "common" grunt and talisman statement of graffiti drawn all over the world by American soldiers.
  • 4,000 Stars are mounted on the Freedom Wall, each represents 100 Americans who gave their ultimate sacrifice with their life. When you do the math, that is over 400,000 American men and women who died during WWII.
  • The WWII Memorial plaze is 337 ft, 10 inches long (longer than a football field) and 204 feet 2 inches wide. The pool is 246 feet by 147 feet wide.
  • Approval for the memorial was granted by the Senate in 1993, over 400 participants competed for the design rights. Friedrich St. Florian, an Austrian born American was granted the design award in 1997. The Memorial was opened to the public in May 2004/
  • There are ten quotes from presidents, and military leaders inscribed in various sections of the memorial. Quotes from the following people are included: President Franklin D. Rossevelt, Colonel Oveta Culp Hobby, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Walter Lord, General Douglas MacArthur, General George C Marshall, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, and President Harry S. Truman
  • The granite pillars, walls, walls and bronze castings were constructed by American companies in Rhode Island, Vermont, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Oregon.
  • Four American Eagles sit atop of four bronze columns holding laurels to memorialize the victory of the WWII generation.
  • The 56 pillars are connected by a bronze rope that represents the bonding of the American nation that occurred during this time. The pillars are in order of their entry into the United States of America.
  • Each seal of the military; the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Army Air Forces, Coast Guears, and Merchant Marine is represented at the entrance to the WWII Memorial
  • The World War II Memorial Park sits on 7.4 acres between the Washington monument and the Lincoln Memorial.

WWII Memorial Video - Watch before your visit

If you can't make it to Washington DC to visit the WWII Memorial there are several videos which will not only walk you through but give you a history of each area and it's symbolism. Learning more about why the memorial was built, the symbolism of the engravings, the pillars and even Killroy will make you feel as you are almost there.

However nothing can replace a visit to the actual WWII Memorial. I so want to return, my visit was brief when I went in 2010, it was a whirl wind trip as I chaperoned high school band students. The wreaths, memorials, and flowers touched me and brought more than one tear to my eye.

WWII Memorial: A Testament to Freedom
WWII Memorial: A Testament to Freedom

A great video to watch before visiting the WWII Memorial in Washington DC. It will inspire you and teaches about the history behind the battles, and why we call this a Testament to Freedom.

This video should be shown in every high school history class. World War II veterans are dying every day and soon there won't be anyone to tell the stories, the history. We should never forget.

 

400 Stars - Symbolizing American Casualties

Wall of Freedom
Wall of Freedom

Every Star on the Wall of Freedom represents 100 American lives lost in the fight for freedom. That number is over 400,000 casualties. My son stood at this pool for a long time and just stared. He asked several questions that day about his grandfather and I told him what I knew. He asked how many more of my relatives were in WWII, I know his two uncles also served, but didn't know anything about them.

Little did I know then that my youngest son was contemplating joining the Armed Forces and would later that year commit to the United States Marine Corps. His grandfather would be proud.

Debate about the Closing of the Memorial

Several groups of WWII veterans were given free trips, through donations of Honor Flight organizations to visit their memorial, many for the first time. These veterans are in their 80's and 90's and many confined to wheelchairs.

Due to the government shutdown the Obama administration ordered the WWII Memorial to be shut down. Now that you have learned more about the funding, seen photos of the WWII Memorial and learned it's significance to veterans and their families what do you think?

Should the government block access to the WWII Memoria?

Books About WWII Destroyers

My sons are US Marines and my Dad would of been really proud of them serving their country. The only information I have about my Dad in WWII is he served on a destroyer at Normandy and in the Pacific.

I'm not sure which destroyer my Dad served on in WWII, he was young, barely 17 and told me he was a runner and worked one of the guns on deck. His nickname was Tiny Terry the Terrible because you didn't want to cross him.

United States Navy Destroyers of World War II in Action
United States Navy Destroyers of World War II in Action

This hardback book on United States destroyers shows photographs and images never seen before. Historians, war buffs and all give it high reviews it chronicles the history of destroyers from the late 1800s through WWII . A great reference book.

 

My Guestbook - Learned something, Let me know

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    • ThreeQuarters2Day profile imageAUTHOR

      Dawn Romine 

      4 years ago from Nebraska

      @shellys-space: I would love to go back, with more time that is, on just a photo trip. So much to see and do, Love people watching.

    • shellys-space profile image

      Shelly Sellers 

      4 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      My son and husband went on the Washington D.C. school trip this Spring and loved visiting all the sites and the Memorials!

    • wildbluefrontier profile image

      Nathan M 

      4 years ago from Tucson

      It looks like a wonderful memorial. when I visited Washington D.C. in 1999, it wasn't there yet I guess. I saw the Korean War memorial and the Vietnam memorial. I would have loved to seen this one too. Thanks for the tour.

    • ThreeQuarters2Day profile imageAUTHOR

      Dawn Romine 

      4 years ago from Nebraska

      @123Alpha: Thank you for the compliments. I did take a lot of time on this lens. I wanted to get it right and have it serve as a reference. If not for anyone else but me and my family. I can't imagine the devastation and how if affected every single family in the nation and world.

    • profile image

      123Alpha 

      4 years ago

      Awesome lens! Well-researched information

      No matter who you are, the memories of the World Wars would always evoke tears and emotions. Whatever may be the case, may the human race never witness such a scale of devastation again...

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