The World War II Memorial is located between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, a reflection of the importance of World War II in preserving the democratic ideals created under George Washington and defended under Abraham Lincoln.

Dedicated on May 29, 2004, the memorial is really beautiful. An oval design of water with two fountains has two semicircles on each end, each semicircle consisting of 28 pillars and a triumphal arch.

Each 17-foot tall pillar has the name of either one of the 56 U.S. states, territories or the District of Columbia. They alternate, to the right and left, based on when the State or territory entered the Union. The wreaths of oak and wheat on each pillar symbolize the nation's industrial and agricultural strength, both of which were essential to the success of the global war effort.

The northern pavilion is dedicated to the Atlantic conflict.

The southern pavilion is dedicated to the Pacific conflict.

Inscriptions at the base of the pavilion fountains mark key battles of the war on both the Atlantic and Pacific sides.

On the floor of each pavilion is a replicate of the World War II Victory Medal that was given to each person who served in the war.

The Freedom Wall hold 4,048 gold stars. Each gold star represents 100 service personnel who died or are missing in the war. The 405,399 American dead and missing from World War II are second only to the loss of 620,000 Americans during the Civil War.

The memorial is free and open 24 hours a day. Park Rangers are on duty daily from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. and to provide interpretive programs every hour on the hour from 10:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m.

All photos in this blog post were taken by my husband and me during our visit in September, 2013.



Located just to the east of The Three Soldiers memorial is the Vietnam Women's Memorial which honors the 265,000 women of the U.S. Armed Forces who took part in the war.
Sculpted by internationally-known, New Mexico native Glenna Goodacre and dedicated on November 11, 1993 (Veteran's Day), the memorial depicts three women coming to the aid of a fallen soldier.

While one nurse comforts the soldier, another kneels in thought or prayer. The third looks to the skies: for help from a med-i-vac helicopter or perhaps from a higher power.

The women's memorial became reality due to a 10-year fight by Vietnam army nurse Diane Carlson Evan, who led the fight to add the Vietnam Women's Memorial to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Although The Three Soldiers memorial was meant to give human faces to the names on the memorial wall, Evans felt the omission of a memorial showing women would negate the important role that women played in the war.

However it took three federal commissions and two separate pieces of Congressional legislation to get the memorial approved, a total of 10 years for the memorial to become the first one honoring women's military service.

The memorial is free and open 24 hours a day. Park Rangers are on duty daily from 8 a.m. to midnight. Storytellers are featured every 15 to 30 minutes near the site of the memorial from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. 

All photos in this blog post were taken by my husband and me during our visit in September, 2013.



Walking northeast from the Lincoln Memorial we came to the Vietnam Memorial. 

Everyone is familiar with the two intersecting granite walls with the thousands of names inscribed in them. But when young 21-year-old Maya Ying Ling's design was first unveiled, it was very controversial. Many veterans felt the design wasn't an appropriate memorial for their fallen brothers...too abstract, too cold like a tombstone.

The following year it was decided that a traditional, figurative sculpture would be erected as part of the memorial. Two years after the wall memorial was dedicated, The Three Soldiers sculpture was unveiled.

Washington D.C. sculptor, Frederick Hart, who was the third place finisher in the original Vietnam Veterans memorial design competition, was asked to design this sculpture.

Based on the clothing and weapons on the figures, it is likely the middle soldier is a Marine and the two other figures represent Army soldiers. The sculptor said his goal was to create a moving evocation of the experience and service of the Vietnam veteran. He described it: "They wear it on their uniform and carry the equipment of war; they are young. The contrast between the innocence of their youth and the weapons of war underscores the poignancy of their sacrifice. There is about them the physical contact and senses of unity that bespeaks the bonds of love and sacrifice that is the nature of men at war...Their strength and their vulnerability are both evident."

But note how the sculpture is placed away from the wall memorial which you can see in the background above. Originally the sculpture was to stand next to the wall to appease those who were critical of the wall design. However, Maya Ying Ling was very critical of this decision, arguing the sculpture would be the focal point, not the wall. It was ultimately decided The Three Soldiers sculpture would be displayed some distance away. However, it could be said the soldiers were placed here in order to look on in solemn tribute to the names of their fallen comrades. 

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is open 24 hours a day. Rangers and volunteers are available throughout the day and into the evening to assist visitors. The visitor contact station is between the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Lincoln Memorial.

Like the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is not located in an area close to a Metro stop. Another reason to try the Capital Bikeshare which has stations right across from the Lincoln Memorial and at 21st Street and Constitution Avenue which is close walking distance from the memorial.

All photos in this blog post were taken by my husband and me during our visit in September, 2013.



After leaving the Martin Luther King memorial, we continued on to the Lincoln Memorial.
The first idea to build the memorial began in March, 1867; however it took until 1901 before the site was chosen. By building the memorial there, it completed an idea for the open mall area from the Capitol Building to the Potomac River. In the photo below, taken from the steps of the memorial, you can see all the way past the reflecting pool to Washington Monument and the Capitol Building.


The 36 Indiana limestone columns around the memorial represent the states in the Union at the time of Lincoln's death...

The names of those 36 states are carved in the frieze; the names of the 48 states in the Union when the memorial was completed in 1922 are carved at the top of the memorial.
Designed by the acclaimed sculptor Daniel Chester French, and made from 28 marble blocks, the statue of Lincoln is 19 feet tall and 19 feet wide and sits on a 11-foot high pedestal.


A close-up of the detailing of Lincoln's face and hands...
On the walls to the left and right of Lincoln are the Gettysburg Address...


and his second Inaugural Address.
One piece of travel advice: Unfortunately the presidential and war memorials are located in areas not close to Metro stops. The nearest metro stop to the Lincoln Memorial is the Foggy Bottom stop, but it is several blocks away. My advice would be to either buy a day ticket for the Old Town Trolley orange tour (we had purchased the two-day tour pass) or try the Capital Bikeshare which has stations right across from the Lincoln Memorial, and very near the Martin Luther King memorial and the Jefferson Memorial.

All photos in this blog post were taken by my husband and me during our visit in September, 2013.