World War II monument opens in Washington, D.C. 2004
On April 29, 2004, the National World War II Memorial opens in Washington, D.C., to thousands of visitors, providing overdue recognition for the 16 million U.S. men and women who served in the war. The memorial is located on 7.4 acres on the former site of the Rainbow Pool at the National Mall between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. The Capitol dome is seen to the east, and Arlington Cemetery is just across the Potomac River to the west.
The granite and bronze monument features fountains between arches symbolizing hostilities in Europe and the Far East. The arches are flanked by semicircles of pillars, one each for the states, territories and the District of Columbia. Beyond the pool is a curved wall of 4,000 gold stars, one for every 100 Americans killed in the war.An Announcement Stone proclaims that the memorial honors those “Americans who took up the struggle during the Second World War and made the sacrifices to perpetuate the gift our forefathers entrusted to us: A nation conceived in liberty and justice.”
Though the federal government donated $16 million to the memorial fund, it took more than $164 million in private donations to get it built. Former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole, who was severely wounded in the war, and actor Tom Hanks were among its most vocal supporters. Only a fraction of the 16 million Americans who served in the war would ever see it. Four million World War II veterans were living at the time, with more than 1,100 dying every day, according to government records.
The memorial was inspired by Roger Durbin of Berkey, Ohio, who served under Gen. George S. Patton. At a fish fry near Toledo in February 1987, he asked U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur why there was no memorial on the Mall to honor World War II veterans. Kaptur, a Democrat from Ohio, soon introduced legislation to build one, starting a process that would stumble alongthrough 17 years of legislative, legal and artistic entanglements. Durbin died of pancreatic cancer in 2000.
The monument was formally dedicated May 29, 2004, by U.S. President George W. Bush. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it received some 4.4 million visitors in 2005.
(More Events on This Day in History)
- 1776 Nathanael Greene takes command of Long Island
- 2004 The end of the road for Oldsmobile
- 1862 Union captures New Orleans
- 1950 American statesmen deny Lattimore’s influence
- 1992 Rodney King trial verdict announced
- 1991 Cyclone kills 135,000 in Bangladesh
- 1429 Joan of Arc relieves Orleans
- 1854 First African-American college chartered
- 1945 Dachau liberated
- 1992 Riots erupt in Los Angeles
- 2011 Britain’s Prince William weds Kate Middleton
- 1957 Daniel Day-Lewis born
- 1875 Henry James’ Transatlantic Sketches is published
- 1968 Hair premieres on Broadway
- 1863 William Randolph Hearst is born
- 1974 Nixon announces release of White House Watergate tapes
- 1986 Roger Clemens strikes out 20 batters in single game
- 1970 U.S.-South Vietnamese forces launch Cambodian “incursion”
- 1971 New casualty figures released.
- 1975 Operation Frequent Wind begins
World War I
- 1916 British forces surrender at Kut, Mesopotamia
World War II
- 1945 Adolf and Eva marry
- 1946 International Military Tribunal indicts Hideki