When the World War II Memorial was unveiled in 2004, some found fault with its design. Others pointed to the national monuments to Vietnam and Korean War veterans and asked "Why did this take so long?"
What it may have lacked in timeliness, the World War II Memorial made up for in inclusiveness. Standing across the reflecting pool from the Lincoln Memorial, the monument invites visitors to ponder the scope of the war that cost 405,399 American lives.
More than 16 million soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen served under the U.S. flag during World War II. Thousands more back home bought government bonds, grew victory gardens, and "kept the home fires burning." This dynamic memorial honors all of them.
Around an oval pool studded with fountains rise 56 granite columns adorned with bronze wreathes and the names of every state, district, and territory that sent its sons and daughters to war. Two towers celebrate the Allied victories in the Atlantic and Pacific. Each of the 4,048 gold stars on the memorial wall represents 100 lives lost in the fight for freedom.
As you wander through this massive monument, listen for the stories its symbolism evokes. Perhaps a visiting member of the "Greatest Generation" will share his or her experiences at Pearl Harbor, Guam, or Normandy. Before you leave, make sure the World War II Registry contains the names of your loved ones who served.
Did You Know:
The 58 pillars are arranged in military order, according to when each state ratified the U.S. Constitution. The first pillar, Delaware, stands to the right of the Gold Star wall. The second, Pennsylvania, to the left. The pillars thus alternate around the memorial.