i]"Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices." [/i]
President Harry Turman
In 1993 Congress authorized the American Battle Monuments Commission to establish a World War II Memorial in Washington,D.C. Selected in a national competition, Friedrich St. Florian designed the memorial. It was funded mostly by private donations. It was begun in September of 2001 and dedicated in May of 2004. This memorial honors the 16 million who served in uniform of whom over 400,000, gave their lives. It also honors the many millions who supported the war effort on the home front and celebrates the American spirit, national unity and victory.
Placing the memorial between the Wshington Monument and Lincoln Memorial reflects the importance of World War II in preserving democratic ideals won under George Washington and defended under Abraham Lincolm. This memorial continues American's story of striving for freedom and individual rights.
Twin Atlantic and Pacific pavilions symbolize a war fought across two oceans. These pavilliions are stationed on opposite ends of the monument area.
Roll call of the nation: The 56 U.S. states, territories, and District of Columbia that united in a common cause are inscribed on the pillars that surround the monument area.
The Freedom Wall's 4,000 gold stars commemorate the more than 400,000 American who gave their lives in the war. Each gold star represents 100 lives lost.
On each side of the memorial's ceremonial entrance on 17th Street, 12 bas-relief sculptures recall scenes of America at war. In the first scene above, a family gathers around its radio to hear President Franklin D. Roosevelt ask Congress for a declaration of war after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. The second is a scene of Americans working at home to help the war effort and the final one shows the celebration that took place at the end of the war.