More than 1,000 acres of parkland in our nation's capital are home to many of the most cherished symbols of this country.
National Mall & Memorial Parks is responsible for the sites, administering, interpreting, maintaining and preserving the Washington Monument, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Ulysses S. Grant Memorial, D.C. War Memorial, National World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, George Mason Memorial, Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House, the National Mall, East and West Potomac Parks, Constitution Gardens, 60 statues and numerous other historic sites, memorials and parklands.
As Veterans Day 2013 approaches, we highlight some of the special sites that honor service by our veterans.
National World War II Memorial
It honors the 16 million who served in the armed forces of the United States during World War II, the more than 400,000 who died, and the millions who supported the war effort from home.
The design features 56 granite pillars connected by a bronze sculpted rope symbolizing the unity of the nation during WWII. Each state and territory from that period and the District of Columbia is represented by a pillar adorned with oak and wheat bronze wreaths and inscribed with its name; the pillars are arranged in the order of entry into the Union. A field of 4,000 sculpted gold stars on the Freedom Wall commemorates the more than 400,000 Americans who gave their lives. During WWII, the gold star was the symbol of family sacrifice.
U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial
While the statue depicts one of the most famous incidents of World War II, the battle at Iwo Jima, the memorial is dedicated to all Marines who have given their lives in the defense of the United States since the corps was established 238 years ago today, on Nov. 10, 1775.
The statue sits west across the Potomac from the Lincoln Memorial. Figures 32-foot high are shown raising a 60-foot bronze flagpole, recreating an image that Joe Rosenthal of the Associated Press caught of the flag-raising in an iconic photograph that eventually won a Pulitzer Prize. The M-l rifle and the carbine carried by two of the figures are 16 and 12 feet long, respectively. The canteen would hold 32 quarts of water. The figures stand on a rock slope above a granite base. The entire memorial is about 78 feet tall. The names and dates of every principal Marine Corps engagement since the founding of the Corps form a gold ring around the base.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Located north of the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial includes the names of more than 58,000 servicemen and women who gave their lives in the Vietnam War. The memorial also includes “The Three Servicemen” statue and the Vietnam Women’s Memorial.
There were four major criteria for the design: (1) that it be reflective and contemplative in character, (2) that it harmonize with its neighboring national memorials, (3) that it contain the names of all who died or remain missing, and (4) that it make no political statement about the war. Maya Lin conceived her design as creating a park within a park. She chose polished black granite for the walls. Its mirror-like surface reflects the images of the surrounding trees, lawns and monuments. The walls point to the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. The names are inscribed in the chronological order of their dates of casualty.
Korean War veterans Memorial
The Korean War Veterans Memorial lies at the western end of the National Mall, adjacent to the Lincoln Memorial and immediately opposite the Vietnam Veterans Memorial across the Reflecting Pool.
The memorial commemorates the sacrifices of the 5.8 million Americans who served in the U.S. armed services during the three-year period of the Korean War; 54,246 Americans died.
The 19 stainless steel statues of service members in an advance party — 14 Army, three Marine, one Navy and one Air Force — are approximately 7 feet tall and represent an ethnic cross section of America. A Mural Wall consists of 41 panels extending 164 feet and featuring more than 2,400 photographs of the Korean War. The reflective quality of the granite creates the image of a total of 38 statues, symbolic of the 38th Parallel and the 38 months of the war.
Note: There is no national memorial to veterans of World War I in the National Mall & Memorial Parks. However, the District of Columbia erected the D.C. War Memorial to honor its sons who died in service in World War I. The memorial and the grounds were restored in 2011.
Source: National Park Service