Washington DC: The World War II Memorial

In terms of area built, the World War II Memorial is perhaps the largest memorial on the National Mall. One would have thought that the World War II Memorial were built decades ago but you’ll be surprised, as we were, to learn that it was built just a few years ago.

“World War II was the only war that was fought across six of the world’s seven continents and all of its ocean”, so wrote a British historian. It killed 50 million people in all.


As the name implies, this monument is built to remember the sacrifices of Americans during the most devastating conflict in human history. Whether one agrees or not, the World War II had a profound impact on the American psyche. It was a “good” war … a war against tyranny and of liberation.

The US fought the war on two separate fronts — the Atlantic and the Pacific.

World War II was the turning point for the Americans on the global stage. It was out from this war that they emerged as the breadbasket and industrial superpower of the world.


The World War II Memorial was placed right between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. This reflects the importance of the World War II in preserving the democratic ideals of two great leaders of the US.


Approaching west from the Washington Monument, is the wide ceremonial entrance with sculptures of scenes of America at war. We walked down this pathway and even without any signs, we knew what each of them meant.


Right in the middle is the fountain and plaza.


Around the plaza stands a total of 56 pillars which collectively is known as the Roll call of the nation. Each of these pillars represents an US state, territories and the District of Columbia. They are arranged in accordance to the order when they entered the Union … starting with Delaware.

You see the wreaths on each of the pillar? They are designed as wreaths of oak and wheat which symbolizes the industrial and agriculture strength of the country.


On the northern and southern end of the plaza stands two arches, each inscribed with the words Atlantic and Pacific. This represents the two arena of conflict the US was involved in.


Gold stars. You know what is so symbolic of gold stars in the US? You see when a family has children serving in war, they proudly display on their windows a red bordered small flag with the corresponding number of blue stars. The blue stars are replaced with a gold star if the son became a casualty of war.


So, on the western side of the World War Ii Memorial is a wall of 4000 Gold Stars. They represent the 400,000 Americans who had given their lives during the war.


While we were there, we saw three Marine Ones flying over to the White House. The Marine One is the call name of the helicopter that the US President travels in (the plane is called Air Force One while the helicopter is called Marine One). You will know it’s Marine One when you see three helicopter flying in unison. One of the three (or more) helicopters carries the President with the rest flying as a decoy to confuse any potential assassin.

They flew past very fast and the only picture I managed to take was the one above. Boy, they sure was noisy. Anyway, it was cool to see the Marine One.

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  1. advancement

    So useful article! I am from Russia, and my country had felt the horror of the WW2. We are proud of our veterans. We keep memory about people who had given their lifes. 9th of May is one of my favourite holiday, and I think most of russians. So thank you for sush beautiful Memorial, thanks that you remember. Sorry for my bad english.

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