As you’re probably aware, there are many, many memorials scattered throughout Washington D.C. Memorials to individuals, to the different branches of the military, and to the wars fought by the US, and most of those are at the National Mall, not too far from the biggest memorial of all, the Washington Monument. They are all well-designed and moving, but the WWII Memorial was my favorite.
It’s in a great location between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, so there are great views in both directions.
There are bas-relief sculptures on either side to represent the Atlantic and Pacific Theaters:
The center of the Memorial is a pool with fountains.
There are meaningful quotes scattered throughout:
Freedom Wall has 4,048 gold stars, and each of those represents 100 American WWII personnel who died in the war or are still listed as missing. It is staggering to see the stars and know what they represent.
We noticed a lot of people sitting with their feet in the pool, and at first I thought that was a little strange and maybe even disrespectful, but then we came across a sign inviting people to sit (not stand or wade) with their feet in the water, as a reminder of the way American soldiers celebrated the end of WWII in the fountains of Europe.
Once I understood the meaning of the fountain, and why people were soaking their feet, I also took part, and it was a moving experience to do so, especially with the view of the Washington Monument in front of me. It felt like being part of something bigger, more important.
There are both Atlantic and Pacific sides of the Memorial, to represent the two Theaters in the war:
There are also 56 columns surrounding the Memorial, one for each state and territory at the time of WWII (if you’re doing the math, Alaska and Hawaii were territories at that point, as were the Philippines). The empty space in the middle of the column represents the losses suffered during the war, and each column is adorned with two wreaths…one of wheat to represent agriculture on the home front, and one of oak to represent the strength of the country.
Even though I didn’t lose any family members in WWII, it was an incredibly moving place to visit.
Do you have a favorite memorial in D.C. or elsewhere?
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