The WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Has anyone seen it? Although I was raised in the D.C. metro area, I have not been to the Mall in years.

I was opposed to the WWII memorial cutting across the Nation’s Front Yard. It looked like a really poor design too.

On the other hand, I was opposed to the remarkably beautiful, haunting, Vietnam Memorial. Obviously all my taste in monuments is in my mouth.

What does it look like to you now, in real life?

My parents (Dad’s a WWII veteran himself) saw it when they were here last but I wasn’t with them.

The Air Force is getting a memorial now; it’s under construction next door to the Navy Annex.

The WWII Memorial is near the DC WWII, and the First Division (and Second) Memorials. It is across the river from the Marine Corps Memorial, the Military Women’s Memorial, on the Mall like the Vietnam Memorial and the Korean War Memorial.

I have to wonder how much more marble the Monumental Core can handle.

I haven’t been to Washington DC to see it, but I’ll share (in a spoiler box) why I have severe misgivings about it, based on the pictures I have seen:

[spoiler]I’ve been to Rome - many years ago - where there’s a faux classical memorial built by Mussolini. I believe it’s called “the wedding cake.” Particularly there in Rome, so very close to the real Forum, the memorial looks fake, fake, fake.

I’m concerned that the WWII memorial looks too much like that fake memorial, insulting not only because of it’s grating fake-osity, but because it copies the style of a memorial built by one of SOBs that WWII was fought to stop![/spoiler]

Looks to be designed by a huge committee of bureaucrats, which is pretty accurate.

Wrong location, wrong design, wrong message.

When I went to it, I had no idea what it was a memorial to unless there hadn’t been a name on it telling me what it was about.

The Vietnam Memorial made me think. The Korean War Memorial made me think. The World War II Memorial made me go “What?”

It’s not bad. It’s kind of “busy”…you’ve got the state pillars, and the stars, and the sides representing the theaters. But it’s not that bad.

The Vietnam & Korea memorials make me cry. I haven’t seen the WWII memorial up close yet, but…

I used to play a regular softball game (in the late 1970s) on the future site of the Vietnam memorial–I have no principled objection to it or other war memorials, though I must say that the devotion of just-plain parkland to such specific purposes kinda makes the park (in this case the Mall) into something other than a park, which I regret. There was something spectacular and irreplacable about playing a softball game in a national park within sight of the Capitol building Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, etc. that is no longer available. I found the experience strangely patriotic.

Besides, as history creeps on, and we have a new war every decade or so, aren’t we likely to run out of usable land to memorialize our war dead? Won’t someone think of the children? What will future generations do when their wars get unnecessarily slighted?

I often wondered why, for the longest time, there were memorials to Vietnam and Korea but none for WWII. But then, it seems like the world was essentially a memorial, since Europe is at peace and Asia and Africa are free from the domination of the old colonial powers.

And the new nations of Africa & Asia abuse one another with all the fierceness, or more, that the Europowers showed them.

And the peoples of Africa & Asia are tortured by their own, self-ruled, governments as much or even worse than the old Colonial Powers did. Before anybody mentions the Belgian Congo, I’ll remind you of Cambodia’s Killing Fields (1/3rd of the nation exterminated), or the Rwandan Genocide (a.k.a.-“Hutu Shoots A Tutsi”).

Old tribal warfare has re-kindled, turning once-peaceful villages into abbators.

Human rights are non-existant in many former colonies. Usually, there were at least pro-forma diplays under European rule, Belgium excepted (obviously).

Much of the civil infrastructure the Colonial Powers built was destroyed, occasionaly deliberately, as “symbols of oppression”. :smack:

I’m not certain that this was an improvement.

I agreed that we needed a memorial for WWII. But like many I think they should have put it somewhere else and I think the memorial itself could have been done better.

Several states have WWII memorials and some of them are very nice, simple memorials that list the names of everyone from that state who died in the conflict.

Tennessee created it’s WW2 Memorial in the Bicentennial Mall, a park located in Nashville, Tennessee. The Mall (not the shopping kind, but a large open lawned space) was opened to commemorated Tennessee’s 200th year as a State of the Union.

A description of the WW2 Memorial–

Some scenes-

An educational site on the Memorial–

Details on the Pylons–

WWII was designed by committe. I agree. I also agree that upon first viewing the WWII memorial is completely underwhelming. But because I think about stuff like this, I disagree that it was wrongwrongwrong, and I’m not really sure I can get my thoughts out about this.

Lots of people came out of the war. Some were Yellow Dog Democrats. Some were pacifists. Some were Libertarians. WWII set off a whole big slew o’ social movements, from the rights of African- to Asian- to Indian- to Women(Female?)-Americans. How the hell do you build a monument to all that? Isn’t it enough to build a base - a START - and let people go from there? The whole city is a monument to the war that made us Americans what we are. Maybe everything else is icing?

I spent some time at the American Indian museum when I was in last DC and was, at the time, utterly unimpressed…until I thought on it a bit, and realized that the museum is a START. It’s not meant to to tell each and every visitor about each and every thing that happened to each and every tribe from Alert in Canada to the lower-most Inca tribe in Peru. That museum is meant as a start. To get one’s mind going, to think, to fill in the blanks.

There’s another Mall museum dedicated to Hitler’s horrors, and that’s as it should be, even if we as a people choose to ignore the “never again” maxim.

The actual WWII monument is no more impressive than the statue of any random guy on any random horse in the random any circle in anyplace in DC. Those veterans will all be gone soon, and then it’ll be just another of our wars, and maybe it’s an ok thing that it fades as hard and as fast as the guy who gave his name to Dupont Circle, and maybe 50 years from now message board posters will wonder why we as a nation gave so much acreage to a big black wall. Maybe they’ll wonder why we spent so much time, space, and money on 50,000 American names, another museum dedicated to the maxim of “never again”, and no museum at all to the people who did not at all prevent the deaths of 2,000,000 Sudanese or 1,000,000 Rwandese.

Paul, the memorial is worth visiting, and unavoidable. The best route is to start at the FDR. If you bus/taxi there first (and very early!, before the tourist crowds) in the morning, from there you can easily walk to - Wow, I’ve just now remembered it existed…but when you cross the main drag, you’ll find a Grecian gazebo dedicated to…what, the War of 1812? I forget. Anyhow - From there, you will walk to the Korean Memorial, then to Lincoln (if you wish). A little NW jog to Vietnam, then just follow the reflecting pool to WWII. Continuing east you’ll pass the Washington, then you’ll be on the Smithsonian part of the Mall. The Indian American Museum is at the far east of the mall and is well worth the visit. Double back to have lunch at the National Gallery, then finish off your day at American History. You’ll be done by 3 if you start off first thing.

IIRC the gazebo in the trees to the left on the Lincoln Memorial (looking at it from the Capitol) is the Washington DC WWI Memorial. A nice quiet place.

I have been looking at the photos of the WWII Memorial, and I have been trying to give it the benefit of a doubt. I still don’t like it.

Ah! I found it. The epitaph for Christopher Wren who designed Saint Peter’s (Paul’s) Cathedral in which he is buried.

“Lector, si monumentum requiris, circumspice”

“Reader, if you seek his monument, look around you.”

I agree that the monument was rather underwhelming, but I have to admit, it was a lot of fun to stand in front of the Michigan pillar, pump my fists, and say, “Woooo!” :slight_smile:

I found the WWII Memorial moving, mostly because I was there with my father who is a WWII veteran, and there were many, many, many old men walking around the memorial looking at the names of the major areas of conflict. The wall of 4,000 gold stars, each one representing 100 deaths, is moving.

My father was very unhappy about the site selection but changed his mind after seeing the memorial and reading why that site was selected. The site was chosen because it brings together three milestone events of American history–the founding of the country in the 18th century, the saving of the union by Lincoln in the 19th century, and the defeat of fascism in the 20th century.

I really like it. I’ve been three or four times now. The Vietnam Memorial style which has dominated the field for the last few decades would have been completely inappropriate for “the last good war.” Whereas the scale of the thing and the many different features therein, to my mind, kind of echo the nature of the effort that won that war. Yes, the eagles and the wreaths and stuff do occasionally look like something the nazis would have built, but I get that feeling less when actually at the site than I did seeing pictures before I’d been there. Anyway, there’s still plenty of green space on the Mall, and you can still play baseball on the corner of 23rd and Constitution. There may well be a point at which the Mall is swallowed up by too much masonry, but this isn’t it.


Thanks Cliffy. That is the kind of first-hand account I was hoping for. It still looks bad (real bad) in the photos, but now I have some small hope it is ‘not as bad as it looks.’