Trip to Washington DC, May 2005
In May 2005, WW2DB contributor Bryan Hiatt visited the National Mall in Washington DC. While there, the Maryland resident visited several places of interest, including the World War II Memorial and the American History Museum. Here’s his report.
World War II Memorial
Since its April 2004 opening, the World War II Memorial has attracted thousands of visitors, among them veterans making their own personal and unique pilgrimages.
Unlike the Korean and Vietnam memorials that are both smaller in scope, the World War II Memorial seeks to represent the breadth of a world-wide conflict. While some have been critical of the design of the memorial, it is a fitting tribute to the sacrifices of a generation.
The memorial itself is oval shaped and is balanced by pavilions representing the main theatres of operation: Atlantic and Pacific. There are 56 wreath-adorned pillars in the memorial that represent American states, District of Columbia, and US territories that worked to defeat the Axis. Within the memorial, visitors will find
a commemorative area at the western side...[that] recognize[s] the sacrifice of America's WWII generation and the contribution of our allies. A field of 4,000 sculpted gold stars on the Freedom Wall commemorate the more than 400,000 Americans who gave their lives. During WWII, the gold star was the symbol of family sacrifice (WW2 Memorial web site).
There is also a rainbow pool and "waterworks."
Approaching the memorial from Constitution Ave, I first saw the Pacific tower to the left and the bas-reliefs in the foreground.
The reliefs, according to the memorial's web site, are set "into the balustrades of the north and south ceremonial entrance walls. The bas-reliefs consist of 24 separate panels. The 12 on the north depict the Atlantic front; the 12 on the south depict the Pacific front." To me these were especially memorable, as they were based on historic photos. I've provided the complete list of the reliefs below.
As I continued in, I examined the Atlantic reliefs on the right. Two of them caught my eye:
Entering the memorial, and looking toward the Atlantic pavilion, I joined a fairly sizeable crowd. The people in this photo help to measure the scale of the memorial. Among this group, there were many veterans, among them a 1st Infantry Division man and several Navy men, all identified by their baseball-style hats and pins.
Moving up the walkway to the right (and inside the Atlantic pavilion), visitors enjoyed a raised view of the pool and Pacific pavilion.
Exiting down the ramp, I made my way over the Pacific pavilion, passing the commemorative area (see picture called Freedom Wall on the memorial's web site). Each pavilion has a set of inscriptions and a small pool with fountains at its base. There you'll find a listing of major battles as well. While these are difficult to see here (at the bottom of the photo, carved into the raised "half circle"), these are reminders of nature of this global conflict.
As of May 2005, visitors should be aware that a huge construction project is ongoing at the Washington Monument, just adjacent to the World War II Memorial. Be prepared to walk around the construction project to get to the memorial.
World War II Memorial Bas-Relief Panels
|Atlantic Front Panels||Pacific Front Panels|
|Lend Lease||Pearl Harbor|
|Women in Military||Embarkation|
|Rosie the Riveter/Aircraft Construction||Shipbuilding|
|Battle of the Atlantic||Agriculture|
|Air War/B-17||Submarine Warfare|
|Paratroopers||Navy in Action|
|Normandy Beach Landing||Amphibious Landing|
|Tanks in Combat||Jungle Warfare|
|Medics in Field||Field Burial|
|Battle of the Bulge||Liberation|
|Russians meet Americans at the Elbe||V-J Day|
American History Museum
After seeing the World War II Memorial, we hoofed it back to the American History Museum to see the Americans at War exhibit (WW2 wing). I was a bit pressed for time, but managed to snap a few pictures (forgive the various lens flairs).
German Machine Pistol
M1 and pistol
Marines in the Pacific (including Thompson and B.A.R.)
Thanks to the Editor, Peter Chen, for making this submission possible.
Source: World War II Memorial web site
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Thomas Dodd, late 1945