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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:


Beach Landing

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
Bond Drive Enlistment
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

Suspended Willy

Tank Battles

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

Last Major Update: May 2005

Trip to Washington DC, May 2005 Timeline

2 Jan 1942 James Doolittle was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the US Army for the task of planning an air raid against Japan.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Melanie Sullivan says:
22 Jun 2011 07:47:43 AM

Question: We'd like to take my Dad, Mike, 85 yrs. old and a WWII Navy vet to Washington DC this summer before his health declines. He hasn't been there since the war.
He can walk, but not so far, so we'd need special parking. Are there any vet organizations that can help us plan the trip? We don't need financial help. Just advice. THANKS!

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