World War II Memorial, Washington D.C.

There were plenty of things to see in the country’s capital. There were historical buildings, memorial, statues and anything significant everywhere. The whole place was like a giant museum. We walked around the National Mall and after passing by several monuments we came across the World War II Memorial. Here is a little intro according to wikipedia.

“The World War II Memorial is a memorial of national significance dedicated to Americans who served in the armed forces and as civilians during World War II. Consisting of 56 pillars and a pair of small triumphal arches surrounding a square and fountain, on the former site of the Rainbow Pool at the eastern end of the Reflecting Pool, between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.

Memorial under construction

Opened on April 29, 2004, it was dedicated by President George W. Bush on May 29, 2004. The memorial is administered by the National Park Service under its National Mall and Memorial Parks group.”

view of Lincoln Memorial

We walked around and took plenty of pictures and I looked for the Philippines and California pillars. There’s not plenty of things to say about this place beside that I was very thankful to the ones who served to gain our freedom and keep it. So here is the rest of its history.

History

In 1987, World War II veteran Roger Durbin approached Representative Marcy Kaptur, a Democrat from Ohio, to ask if a World War II memorial could be constructed. Kaptur introduced the World War II Memorial Act to the House of Representatives as HR 3742 on December 10. The resolution authorized the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) to establish a World War II memorial in “Washington, D.C., or its environs”, but the bill was not voted on before the end of the session, so it was not passed. Two more times, in 1989 and 1991, Rep. Kaptur introduced similar legislation, but these bills suffered the same fate as the first and did not become law.

Lincoln and Washington Memorials from WWII Memorial

Kaptur reintroduced legislation in the House a fourth time as HR 682 on January 27, 1993, one day after Senator Strom Thurmond (a Republican from South Carolina) introduced companion Senate legislation. On March 17, 1993, the Senate approved the act, and the House approved an amended version of the bill on May 4. On May 12, the Senate also approved the amended bill, and the World War II Memorial Act was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on May 25 of that year, becoming Public Law 103-32.

On January 20, 1995, Colonel Kevin C. Kelley, project manager for the ABMC, organized the first meeting of the ABMC and the MAB, at which the project was discussed and initial plans made. 

Over the next months, several sites were considered. Three quickly gained favor:

  • U.S. Capitol Reflection Pool area – between 3rd Street and the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial
  • Constitution Gardens – east end, between Constitution Avenue and the Rainbow Pool
  • Freedom Plaza – on Pennsylvania Avenue between 14th and 15th Streets

Design

A nationwide design competition drew 400 submissions from architects from around the country. Friedrich St. Florian’s initial design was selected in 1997. St. Florian’s design evokes a classical monument. Under each of the two memorial arches, the Pacific and Atlantic baldacchinos, four eagles carry an oak laurel wreath. Each of the 56 pillars bear wreaths of oak symbolizing military and industrial strength, and of wheat, symbolizing agricultural production.

Friedrich St. Florian

Over the next four years, St. Florian’s design was altered during the review and approval process required of proposed memorials in Washington, D.C. Ambassador Haydn Williams guided the design development for ABMC.

Of course I wouldn’t know the entire information about this memorial, so I did some research about the structure from the history to the design. So here are more information about its design.

Plaza

The memorial plaza and Rainbow Pool are the principal design features of the memorial, unifying all other elements. Two flagpoles flying the American flag frame the ceremonial entrance at 17th Street. The bases of granite and bronze are adorned with the military service seals of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Army Air Forces, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine. Ceremonial steps and ramps lead from 17th Street into the plaza. A series of 24 bronze bas relief panels along the ceremonial entrance balustrades depict America’s war years, at home and overseas. Announcements of the memorial are located at the 17th Street ceremonial entrance.

Pavilions

Two 43-foot pavilions serve as markers and entries on the north and south ends of the plaza. Bronze baldacchinos are an integral part of the pavilion design. Four bronze columns support four American eagles that hold a suspended victory laurel to memorialize the victory of the WWII generation. Inlayed on the floor of the pavilions are the WWII victory medal surrounded by the years “1941-1945” and the words “Victory on Land,” “Victory at Sea,” and “Victory in the Air.” These sculptural elements celebrate the victory won in the Atlantic and Pacific Theaters.

Pillars

The memorial and my hometowns or homes

Fifty-six granite pillars celebrate the unprecedented unity of the nation during WWII. The pillars are connected by a bronze sculpted rope that symbolizes the bonding of the nation. Each state and territory from that period and the District of Columbia is represented by a pillar adorned with oak and wheat bronze wreaths and inscribed with its name; the pillars are arranged in the order of entry into the Union, alternating south to north across the plaza beginning adjacent to the Field of Gold Stars. The 17-foot pillars are open in the center for greater transparency, and ample space between each allows viewing into and across the memorial.

Materials

The memorial is constructed of bronze and granite. Granite was chosen for its aesthetic appeal, superior strength, and durability. Water resistance was another important criterion. The two principal stones selected for the memorial are “Kershaw” for the vertical elements and “Green County” for the main plaza paving stone. “Kershaw” is quarried in South Carolina, while “Green County” is quarried in Georgia. Two green stones – “Rio Verde” and “Moss Green” – were used for accent paving on the plaza. Both are quarried in Brazil. “Academy Black” and “Mount Airy” were used to reconstruct the Rainbow Pool. “Mount Airy,” quarried in North Carolina, is the original coping stone of the Rainbow Pool. To enhance the aesthetic appearance of the water surface of the pool, an apron of “Academy Black,” quarried in California, were used for the vertical interior surfaces.

Construction of the Memorial

Ground was broken in September 2001. The construction was managed by the General Services Administration.

The National World War II Memorial under construction between September 2001 and April 2004. Photo credit: Rick Latoff / American Battle Monuments Commission from the National World War II Memorial website (https://www.wwiimemorial.com).

The triumphal arches were crafted by Rock of Ages Corporation. Sculptor Raymond Kaskey created the bronze eagles and two wreaths that were installed under the arches, as well as 24 bronze bas-relief panels that depict wartime scenes of combat and the home front. The bronzes were cast over the course of two and a half years at Laran Bronze in Chester, Pennsylvania. 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 twin bronze wreathes decorating the 56 granite pillars around the perimeter of the memorial — as well as the 4,048 gold-plated silver stars representing American military deaths in the war — were cast at Valley Bronze in Joseph, Oregon.

Walking along the memorial

“I’d see buckets full of the stars going through the foundry, and think that each stood for 100 men. The magnitude was overwhelming,” Dave Jackman, former president of Valley Bronze, recalled in 2004.

The John Stevens Shop designed the lettering for the memorial and most of the inscriptions were hand-carved in situ.

The memorial opened to the public on April 29, 2004, and was dedicated in a May 29 ceremony attended by thousands of people. The memorial became a national park on November 1, when authority over it was transferred to the National Park Service.”

Here are the links for more information:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II_Memorial#Design

https://www.nps.gov/wwii/index.htm

Say Cheez!

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