National World War II Memorial (Washington, D.C., U.S.A.)

National World War II Memorial

The National World War II Memorial, an American memorial of national significance, sits on a 30,000 m2  (7.4-acre) piece of land (two-thirds of which is landscaping and water) on the former site of the Rainbow Pool at the eastern end of the Reflecting Pool, between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.

The granite pillars

The memorial is dedicated to those who served in the armed forces and as civilians during World War II. It consists of 56 5.2 m. (17 ft.) tall granite pillars,  arranged in a semicircle, and a pair of small 13 m. (43-ft.) high memorial triumphal arches (crafted by Rock of Ages Corporation, the northern arch is inscribed with “Atlantic,” the southern one, “Pacific“), on opposite sides, surrounding a plaza and fountain.

The author with the Atlantic Arch in the background

Its design was based on Friedrich St. Florian‘s initial design, selected in 1997 during a nationwide design competition that drew 400 submissions from architects from around the country but altered during the review and approval process. On September 2001, ground was broken and the construction was managed by the General Services Administration.

The Pacific Arch

Opened on April 29, 2004, it was dedicated by President George W. Bush on May 29, 2004. On November 1, 2004, the memorial became a national park  when authority over it was transferred to the National Park Service (under its National Mall and Memorial Parks group). As of 2009, more than 4.4 million people visit the memorial each year. In 2012, the memorial’s fountain was renovated.

The memorial’s fountain

Each of the 56 pillars, all consisting of oak (symbolizing military and industrial strength) laurel wreaths and wheat (symbolizing agricultural and breadbasket during the U.S. part in the war) laurel wreath. is inscribed with the name of one of the 48 U.S. states (as of 1945), as well as the District of Columbia, the Alaska TerritoryTerritory of Hawaii, the Commonwealth of the PhilippinesPuerto RicoGuamAmerican Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The pillar of the Commonwealth of the Philippines

The plaza is 102.97 m. (337 ft., 10 in.) long and 73.2 m. (240 ft., 2 in.) wide and is sunk 1.8 m. (6 ft.) below grade.  It contains a pool that is 75.2 × 45 m. (246 ft., 9 in. by 147 ft., 8 in.). The memorial also includes two, inconspicuously located “Kilroy was here” engravings which acknowledges the significance of the symbol to American soldiers during World War II and how it represented their presence and protection wherever it was inscribed.

Excerpt from a speech by Pres. Harry S. Truman

Excerpt from Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s speech

The lettering for the memorial was designed by the John Stevens Shop and most of the inscriptions were hand-carved in situ. Laran Bronze, in Chester, Pennsylvania, cast all the bronzes over the course of two and a half years.

Some of the inscriptions

The Battle of Midway

The baldacchinos of the Pacific and Atlantic Arches each have laurel wreaths suspended in the air, with 4 bronze eagles carrying it, all created by sculptor Raymond Kaskey. The stainless-steel armature that holds up the eagles and wreaths was designed at Laran, in part by sculptor James Peniston, and fabricated by Apex Piping of Newport, Delaware. The chandelier sculpture symbolizes the victory of the War with the Nation’s bird carrying a Grecian symbol of victory but with an American adaptation of oak laurel wreaths to symbolize strength.

Seal using the World War II Victory Medal design

On approaching the semicircle from the east, I walked along one of two walls (right side wall and left side wall) with 24 bronze bas-relief panels (also created by sculptor Raymond Kaskey) that depict wartime scenes of combat and the home front. The scenes, as I approached on the left (toward the Pacific Arch), begin with soon-to-be servicemen getting their physical exams, taking the oath, being issued military gear, and progresses through several iconic scenes, including combat and burying the dead, ending in a homecoming scene.

The memorial flagpole

There is a similar progression on the right-side wall (toward the Atlantic arch) but the scenes are generally more typical of the European theatre with some scenes taking place in England, depicting the preparations for air and sea assaults. The last scene is of a handshake between the American and Russian armies when the western and eastern fronts met in Germany.

The Price of Freedom

The Freedom Wall, on the west side of the memorial, has a view of the Reflecting Pool and Lincoln Memorial behind it. The wall has 4,048 gold stars, each representing 100 Americans who died in the war. In front of the wall lies the message “Here we mark the price of freedom”

Jandy at the fountain area

National World War II Memorial: National MallWashington, D.C.

District of Columbia War Memorial (Washington, D.C., U.S.A.)

The District of Columbia War Memorial, a memorial within the National Mall (the only local District memorial there)commemorating the citizens of the District of Columbia who served, fought and gave their lives in World War I, stands in in a grove of trees at West Potomac Park (the first war memorial to be erected in the park), near the Lincoln Memorial and slightly off of Independence Avenue.

District of Columbia War Memorial

Authorized by a June 7, 1924 act of Congress, funds for the memorial’s construction were provided by the contributions of both organizations and individual citizens of the District. In the spring of 1931, construction of the memorial, designed by Washington architect Frederick H. Brooke, with Horace W. Peaslee and Nathan C. Wyeth as associate architects, began and the memorial was dedicated on November 11, 1931, Armistice Day, by Pres. Herbert Hoover.

Dedication inscription

This 14.3 m. (47-ft.) tall circular, domed, peristyle Doric temple rests on concrete foundations. Its 1.2 m. (4 ft.) high marble base defines a 13.2 m. (43 ft., 5 in.) diameter platform, intended for use as a bandstand. Preserved in the cornerstone is a list of 26,000 Washingtonians who served in the World War I while inscribed on the base are the names of the 499 citizens who lost their lives in the war, together with medallions representing the branches of the armed forces. Twelve 6.7 m. (22-ft.) high, fluted Doric marble columns support the entablature and dome.

List of those who died

Restoration work, funded with US$7.3 million provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, began in October 2010. The lighting systems were improved, water drainage systems were corrected and the landscape was revived to allow the memorial to be used as a bandstand. On November 10, 2011, the memorial reopened. In 2014, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The memorial is administered by the National Park Service under its National Mall and Memorial Parks unit.

How to Get There: The DC War Memorial is located just west of 17th St. and Independence Ave. SW, next to the World War II Memorial. The closest Metro station is Smithsonian.

Korean War Veterans Memorial (Washington, D.C., U.S.A.)

Korean War Veterans Memorial

The Korean War Veterans Memorial, located southeast of the Lincoln Memorial and just south of the Reflecting Pool on the National Mall, commemorates those who served in the Korean War. Our afternoon visit here coincided with the state visit of South Korean Pres. Moon Jae-In and we saw the wreaths he and US Vice-Pres Mike Pence laid at the memorial just this morning.

Wreath laid by South Korean Pres. Moon Jae-In

Wreath laid by US Vice-Pres. Mike Pence

Designed by Cooper-Lecky Architects, who oversaw collaboration between several designers, the Korean War Veterans Memorial’s design and construction was managed by the Korean War Veterans Memorial Advisory Board and the American Battle Monuments Commission.

Jandy at Korean War Veterans Memorial

On June 14, 1993, Flag Day, the groundbreaking for the Memorial was conducted by President George H. W. Bush. Faith Construction Company, the Richard Sherman Company, the Cold Spring Granite Company, the Tallix Art Foundry and the Baltimore District of the US Army Corps of Engineers, the companies and organizations involved in the construction, are listed on the memorial.

Statues designed by sculptor Frank Gaylord

On July 27, 1995, the 42nd anniversary of the armistice that ended the war, the memorial was dedicated by President Bill Clinton and Republic of Korea President Kim Young Sam, to the men and women who served during the conflict.  On the day of its dedication, the memorial was administratively listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the management of the memorial was then turned over to the National Park Service, under its National Mall and Memorial Parks group.

The main memorial, in the form of a triangle intersecting a circle, has 50 m. (164 ft.) long, 200 mm (8 in.) thick walls; more than 100 tons of highly polished “Academy Black” granite from California; and more than 2,500 photographic, archival images (representing the land, sea, and air troops who supported those who fought in the war) sandblasted onto the wall. The Mural, created by Louis Nelson, has photographic images sandblasted into it depicting soldiers, equipment and people involved in the war. When reflected on the wall, there appear to be 38 soldiers, 38 months, and it is also representing the 38 parallel that separated the North and South Korea.

The Mural of Louis Nelson

Within the walled triangle are 19 stainless steel larger than life-size statues designed by Frank Gaylord, each between 2.21 m. (7 ft., 3 in.) and 2.29 m. (7 ft., 6 in) tall; and each weighs nearly 500 kgs. (1,000 lbs.). The figures, representing a platoon on patrol, were drawn from each branch of the armed forces – 14 from the U.S. Army, 3 from the Marine Corps, one is a Navy Corpsman, and one is an Air Force Forward Air Observer.  All are dressed in full combat gear and dispersed among strips of granite and juniper bushes which represent the rugged terrain of Korea.

Pool of Remembrance

The United Nations Wall, a low wall to the north of the statues and path, lists the 22 members of the United Nations that contributed troops or medical support to the Korean War effort.  The Pool of Remembrance, a shallow, 9 m. (30 ft.) diameter pool lined with black granite, is surrounded by a grove of linden trees (shaped to create a barrel effect, which allows the sun to reflect on the pool) with benches.

The numbers of dead

The numbers of wounded

Inscriptions list the numbers killed, wounded, missing in action and held as prisoners of war.  A nearby plaque is inscribed: “Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met.” Additionally, right next to the numbers of American soldiers, are those of the United Nations troops in the same categories. Three bushes of the Rose of Sharon hibiscus plant, South Korea’s national flower, are at the south side of the memorial. A further granite wall bears the simple message, inlaid in silver: “Freedom Is Not Free.”

Freedom is not Free

Korean War Veterans Memorial: 900 Ohio Dr SW, Washington, DC 20024