The National World War II Memorial is a National Memorial to all Americans that served in the armed forces and on the home front during World War II. 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. It opened to the public on April 29, 2004, and was dedicated by President George W. Bush on May 29, 2004, two days before Memorial Day.
A nationwide design competition drew more than 600 submissions. Friedrich St. Florian’s initial design was selected in 1997. 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. The final design consists of 56 pillars, each 17 feet tall, arranged in a semicircle around a plaza with two 43-foot arches on opposite sides. Each pillar is inscribed with the name of one of the 48 U.S. states of 1945, as well as the District of Columbia, the Alaska Territory and Territory of Hawaii, the Commonwealth of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The northern arch is inscribed with “Atlantic”; the southern one, “Pacific.” The Freedom Wall, on the west side of the memorial, holds a field of stars. The wall has 4,048 gold stars, each representing 100 Americans who died in the war. The plaza is 337 ft, 10 in long and 240 feet, 2 inches wide, is sunk 6 feet below grade, and contains a pool that is 246 feet 9 inches by 147 feet 8 inches. The memorial includes two engravings typical of the Kilroy graffiti: “Kilroy was here.”
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