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Facts about The U.S. National World War II Memorial for Kids
- The U.S. National World War II Memorial is a National Memorial dedicated to Americans who served in the armed forces and as civilians during World War II. Consisting of 56 pillars and a pair of small triumphal arches surrounding a plaza and fountain, it is located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on the former site of the Rainbow Pool at the eastern end of the Reflecting Pool, between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.
- In 1987, World War II veteran Roger Durbin approached Representative Marcy Kaptur, a Democrat from Ohio, to ask if a World War II memorial could be constructed.
- Kaptur introduced the World War II Memorial Act to the House of Representatives as HR 3742 on December 10.
- The resolution authorized the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) to establish a World War II memorial in “Washington, D.C., or its environs”, but the bill was not voted on before the end of the session, so it was not passed.
- On May 12, the Senate also approved the amended bill, and the World War II Memorial Act was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on May 25 of that year, becoming Public Law 103-32.
- Additional large donations were made by veterans’ groups, including the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge and others.
- In October 1994, Clinton signed Joint Resolution 227 into law, mandating that the monument be located in downtown Washington, near other memorials.
- The meeting was chaired by Commissioner F. Haydn Williams, chairman of ABMC’s WWII Memorial Site and Design Committee, who would go on to guide the project through the site selection and approval process and the selection and approval of the Memorial’s design.
- A nationwide design competition drew 400 submissions from architects from around the country.
- Over the next four years, St. Florian’s design was altered during the review and approval process required of proposed memorials in Washington, D.C. Ambassador Haydn Williams guided the design development for ABMC.
- The final design consists of 56 granite pillars, each 17 feet tall, arranged in a semicircle around a plaza with two 43-foot triumphal arches, crafted by Rock of Ages Corporation, on opposite sides.
- On approaching the semicircle from the east, a visitor walks along one of two walls picturing scenes of the war experience in bas relief.
- Sculptor Raymond Kaskey created the bronze eagles and wreaths that were installed under the arches, as well as 24 bronze bas-relief panels that depict wartime scenes of combat and the home front.
- The United States Congress, worried that World War II veterans were dying before an appropriate memorial could be built, passed legislation exempting the National World War II Memorial from further site and design review.