WWII Memorial Opens
Hugh Hardy, a New York architect who was a member of the memorial's design jury, said he believes that it does not subtract in any way from the power of the two landmarks on either side. At a Washington symposium discussing the memorial last week, Hardy said the new structure complements its surroundings.
"I can't believe when you go there you won't be more aware of what the Mall is, more aware of the two great monuments that this is so inextricably linked with," Hardy said.
The memorial features side entrances to the north and south and a ceremonial entrance on 17th Street. The walls flanking the ceremonial entrance will feature 24 bronze bas-relief panels, some of which will be installed after the dedication.
The main plaza of the memorial is an oval defined at its north and south edges by two 43-foot arches, representing the war's Atlantic and Pacific theaters. Fifty-six pillars form the perimeter of the oval, representing the states, territories and the District of Columbia at the time of the war. Each pillar is adorned with two sculpted bronze wreaths.
Inside the plaza, small fountains sit at the bases of the two arches. A wall of 4,000 gold stars -- each representing 100 U.S. deaths in the war -- is surrounded by waterfalls on each side. The Rainbow Pool, which has occupied the site since the 1920s, has been restored and features a series of jets designed to produce a spray that looks like a rainbow when sunlight hits it at a certain angle.
More than two-thirds of the memorial consists of grass, plantings and water. A double row of elm trees lines the memorial to the north and south. A circular garden of about 38 feet in diameter sits in the site's northwest corner and is enclosed by a two-foot-high stone wall. Called the "Circle of Remembrance," the garden includes a seating area with wooden benches.
Like the Mall's other monuments, the memorial will be open 24 hours a day. Park Service rangers will be on site seven days a week from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. The Park Service is discouraging visitors from leaving mementos. "There is no place for keeping them, and sadly, if people leave flowers, they'll likely just be thrown away," said Bill Line, a spokesman for the agency.
Parking on the site is limited to five disabled parking spaces accessible from southbound 17th Street, and there is a driveway for tour buses to pick up and drop off passengers. The nearest Metrorail stop is the Smithsonian station, a little over a mile away. Tourmobile will designate a memorial stop for its open-sided trams on Constitution Avenue between 17th and 18th streets, according to the National Park Service.
An information center will open today on the south side of the memorial, where tourists can ask Park Service employees to search the World War II Registry, a database of individuals who served in the war effort either in the military abroad or as a civilian at home. People can add a name to the registry by visiting the American Battle Monuments Commission Web site at www.wwiimemorial.com.
Tourism officials said they will be able to fully judge the impact of the memorial after this summer's "America Celebrates the Greatest Generation" tribute, which will run from the dedication of the memorial through Labor Day and feature more than 140 World War II-themed events sponsored by more than 80 cultural institutions.
Victoria Isley, a spokeswoman for Washington D.C. Convention and Tourism Corp., said she expects that the World War II events will attract about 1 million more people to Washington than would normally visit during the summer, boosting the traditional seasonal figure of 5 million visitors to about 6 million.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company