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Some photos of the WWII Memorial

The Fringe

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I was able to recently take some photos of the new WWII Memorial. Even through its suffering of much criticism, the memorial has attracted many vets and tourists, and makes for a wonderful view since it is situated between the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument. Sorry for the poor quality...these photos had to undergo lots of cropping and compression.
 
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The Fringe

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Here we go...

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2253ww_II_entrance_2_-med.jpg

Theres a nice area of steps leading downward from 17 St to the memorial

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Hope this works! If not, I will try again.
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
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I don't know why, but the pictures of the crowds lounging around and dipping their toes in the reflecting pool kind of bothers me a little. I guess my notion of a war memorial is a more solemn kind of place like the Vietnam Memorial, or even the Peacekeepers Memorial in Ottawa.

I'll get over it.
 

biscuit

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ablarc said:
It's pretty nice, and I like the design, but so would Hitler.
I was thinking the exact same thing. I suppose that the thought was to have a grand monument to a grand war, but it seems a bit, well...imperial. Why the blatantly ironic to use fascist/nazi era design?
 
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mendelman

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ablarc said:
.... I like the design, but so would Hitler.
Yeah, it does kinda suggests the parade grounds of Nuremburg, circa 1940.
 
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PlannerGirl

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Um maybe becouse I hate Bush but WHY is his name on it? No other monument I can think of has the Prez name on it.

That makes my guts hurt.
 
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The WWII Memorial was a very popular site on my Orientation Tour during the National APA conference, even though it wasn't open at the time.
 

AubieTurtle

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PlannerGirl said:
Um maybe becouse I hate Bush but WHY is his name on it? No other monument I can think of has the Prez name on it.

That makes my guts hurt.
What about the Lincoln, Jefferson, and Washington Monuments? :p

In general, I agree with you... putting names of the architect, president, etc., takes the focus away from the WWII vets it was designed to honor.

TranPlanner said:
I don't know why, but the pictures of the crowds lounging around and dipping their toes in the reflecting pool kind of bothers me a little. I guess my notion of a war memorial is a more solemn kind of place like the Vietnam Memorial, or even the Peacekeepers Memorial in Ottawa.
I was thinking the same thing. It looks like a nice place to hang out with the family and have a picnic instead of reflecting on the sacrifice made by those who fought in the war.

Overall though, it's nice there is finally a memorial for the WWII vets. Regardless of the design, what it symbolizes is what is truely important.
 

ludes98

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I find this more moving than the monument:


The Normandy American Cemetery, near Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, containing the graves of 9,386 dead
 

Gedunker

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I just have a lot of problems with the WWII Memorial.
1) It should not have been permitted on the Mall. The programme requirement of maintaining the view corridor between the Washington and Lincoln memorials hamstrung the designer from the start, and so the allegory of Atlantic and Pacific divides rather than unites.
2) The ham-handed treatment of Classical design has been well documented here and elsewhere. I agree that it could have come off the the drafting tables of one of Hitler's architects.
3) The grey granite is cold, foreboding and funereal.
4) You would think we won the war single-handedly.
5) The Gold Stars representing war casualties demeans the sacrifice of all of them.
6) A wading pool? Please, please, please let that be stopped immediately.

What does one learn from the Memorial? How does it inform? I would like to hear from someone who can answer these questions.
 

BKM

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This is a prime example to show the Classical Architect purists when they show of lack of understanding about why classicism is considered so pointless in the US today.

I agree with most of the comments. The setting and the activities would be fine in some neotraditional "town center" in an affluent exurb. they all look like they are relaxing before hitting Banana Republic or The Pottery Barn.

As a dignified war memorial, It's not very successful.
 

Cardinal

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It is a memorial with many faults, but most of all, as others have commented, the inclusion of George W. Bush's name on it. The Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln Memorials are dedicated to those presidents, not by them. This memorial was erected by the American people, not by the president who happened to be in office when it was completed. Any decent person would never permit their name to be engraved on it; to intrude on the honor of those people who fought in the war or died in it. This goes for the architect as well.
 
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I think you all are being too hard on it. It may not be perfect, but the important thing is that we finally have a memorial to arguably the most important event in world history. So what if it wasn't designed to your liking? I for one think the spike of the Washington Monument is kinda worthless, but that doesn't change my respect for what it represents.

And why should everyone be solemn? Most Americans have no grasp on war because they've never been affected by it. At least they're going, and maybe someone who had no idea about the war will walk away with a new respect for it. Our public schools don't teach history they way they should, so let's not get all picky over design when our government makes an effort to recognize the more than 1 million Americans killed or wounded in a war that affected almost the entire world.

Before you start bashing me, I come from a military family - both grandfathers fought in WWII. Instead of nitpicking the design of their memorial, I plan on visiting it to appreciate and reflect on their sacrifice.
 

biscuit

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I don't think anyone here disputes the need for a memorial to honor those who fought in one of the few just and great wars this nation has been involved in. The problem many here, including myself, have is that (judging from the pictures at least)the design doesn't seem to lend itself for people to stop and reflect on the sacrifice made by our military in that conflict. These men and woman deserved more thought than "lets make it big" in the design of their memorial.

Oh, and putting the presidents and architects name on it is just tacky. :-#
 

Repo Man

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I like the monument. It looks nice and I think it fits in well. It was under construction when I was in DC so I haven’t seen how it looks now that it is completed.

For those who complain about it being on the mall, it is nowhere near as offensive as that obnoxious wooden fence surrounding the Washington Monument. I was so pissed off when I saw that. I know they are making some other landscaped vehicle barrier walls, but to completely ruin the views for all visitors for a couple of years seems to be an extreme over-reaction to 9-11.
 

boilerplater

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This monument erected by the Lord's anointed

Who is that St. Florian fella anyway? Anybody here know anything about him? The only St. Florian I've hear of was the patron saint of firefighters.

Give me the F.D.R. memorial for actually relating some historical info about that time.

But being situated so squarely on the classical axis of the Mall, with classical structures at each end, would anything else have flown? I sense that there was an overarching directive that the memorial respond to the classical context.

But yeah, its very monumental, very Albert Speer. I agree w/ most of the criticism. But what would you do?
 

ChevyChaseDC

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I jogged past it after work; I think its design is meant to invoke a sense of triumph and victory - looking at it, I can almost hear the trumpets blaring "Fanfare for the Common Man." So I guess then the observations of facist/imperial design are valid...
 

Gedunker

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valhallan said:
I think you all are being too hard on it. It may not be perfect, but the important thing is that we finally have a memorial to arguably the most important event in world history. So what if it wasn't designed to your liking? And why should everyone be solemn? Most Americans have no grasp on war because they've never been affected by it. At least they're going, and maybe someone who had no idea about the war will walk away with a new respect for it. Our public schools don't teach history they way they should, so let's not get all picky over design when our government makes an effort to recognize the more than 1 million Americans killed or wounded in a war that affected almost the entire world.
<snip> I plan on visiting it to appreciate and reflect on their sacrifice.
Please, do go and report back. I asked in my original post in this thread what a visitor will take away from this memorial -- how the memorial informs the visitor of the enormity of the conflict that was WWII; the casualties incurred by this nation; the sacrifices of those who stayed behind; the magnamity -- in victory and beyond --of this "little experiment in democracy" that we call home. I would be interested in hearing your take after visiting it.

I suppose that I am being hard on it because the father that I knew didn't go and fight (as a 17yr old) to protect a flag from someone that would exercise their right of free speech, or to earn accolades and honors. Indeed, when I asked my dad why he was not a member of the VFW or American Legio, he always answered that he "fought a war with those SOBS, why would I want to drink beer with 'em?" ;-) He always told me that he went to preserve a way of life he believed in enough to risk his own life to preserve. When you go, valhallan, ask ourself how his message is answered by the memorial, because I do not believe that my dad was all that different from all the other young men and boys that went before and after him.
 
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Gedunker said:
Please, do go and report back. I asked in my original post in this thread what a visitor will take away from this memorial -- how the memorial informs the visitor of the enormity of the conflict that was WWII; the casualties incurred by this nation; the sacrifices of those who stayed behind; the magnamity -- in victory and beyond --of this "little experiment in democracy" that we call home. I would be interested in hearing your take after visiting it.

I suppose that I am being hard on it because the father that I knew didn't go and fight (as a 17yr old) to protect a flag from someone that would exercise their right of free speech, or to earn accolades and honors. Indeed, when I asked my dad why he was not a member of the VFW or American Legio, he always answered that he "fought a war with those SOBS, why would I want to drink beer with 'em?" ;-) He always told me that he went to preserve a way of life he believed in enough to risk his own life to preserve. When you go, valhallan, ask ourself how his message is answered by the memorial, because I do not believe that my dad was all that different from all the other young men and boys that went before and after him.
Maybe I'm too dense, but after re-reading your post several times I really don't grasp what you're trying to say in the second paragraph. That leads me to believe no memorial could satisfy your specific wishes.

I believe the purpose of any memorial is to provide a common place for all to reflect on the events of the past. A memorial can also be informative, but let's remember it's not a museum exhibit - it doesn't have to educate.

In this day and age of lobbying and political squabbling, no memorial could ever satisfy everyone and still adequately convey the scale of World War II. So personally, I'm just happy there's finally something in Washington to honor the conflict. When I go there with my kids someday, I'll tell them about their great grandfathers and what they did to save the world. People keep history alive and meaningful, not sculpted rocks.
 

Gedunker

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valhallan said:
Maybe I'm too dense, but after re-reading your post several times I really don't grasp what you're trying to say in the second paragraph. That leads me to believe no memorial could satisfy your specific wishes.
My apologies for being a little obtuse, I was slacking from home and there are just so many more interuptions at home than there are at work ;-) What I was trying to write was that I feel my dad's service in World War II was an act of selflessness -- he didn't do it for any personal reward other than seeing his way of life preserved (read: the American way). I think that is also true for the vast majority of others who fought and served. And I think that should be memorialized.

I disagree that a memorial doesn't have to educate. I think it does have the duty to inform people. If a memorial doesn't have that responsibility, then why are we gathering at these places? The Korean memorial informs by showing soldiers on the march; the Vietnam memorial very cleverly informs by leading us deeper and deeper into a wall of names, etched in black granite, a virtual "scar" on the landscape, as the war was a scar in our history.

It can be done, and it should be done. I guess I'm just going to have to see it for myself.
 

jordanb

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^-- So what you're saying is that they should have built a giant, chrome SUV there? ;-)
 

Gedunker

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jordanb said:
^-- So what you're saying is that they should have built a giant, chrome SUV there? ;-)
LOL. I wish I had a nickel for every WWII vet who has complained that "I fought the war and I am ENTITLED to discriminate against blacks if I don't want them to live in the apartments I own", or "I fought so I could do WHATEVER I want with my damned property" and on and on.

My parents did get one benefit from his service: a VA-backed mortgage, worth $19,000 (1969 dollars).
 

jordanb

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Gedunker said:
My parents did get one benefit from his service: a VA-backed mortgage, worth $19,000 (1969 dollars).
Ok, I get it, they faught for government subsidized sprawl. :-D
 
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Ok, I see where you are coming from now Gedunker.

For the record, W's is not the only president with his name on a monument. Here's a clip from a recent article in the Washington Post:

<< It was pure serendipity, and not any partisan conspiracy, that bestowed this honor on Bush, the memorial's sponsors are quick to point out. He just happens to be in the Oval Office at the time of the project's opening.

"If Al Gore had won the election, his name would be on that stone," said Mike Conley, spokesman for the American Battle Monuments Commission, the independent federal agency that established the memorial.

But not all presidential engravings are created equal. A tour of the Mall's major memorials reveals that although most of them identify the president who dedicated the monument, some names appear more discreetly than others. And in the case of the Korean War Veterans Memorial, which was built by the same commission as the World War II memorial, there is no mention at all of Clinton -- even though he presided at its dedication in 1995. Officials say they can't explain the omission.

Bush did quite well compared with the billing that some other sitting presidents got at major monuments. Engraved in black letters about two inches high, Bush's name comes right after the name of the memorial and before the name of its architect, Friedrich St. Florian.

And Clinton, though absent from the Korean War memorial, got generous credit at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial: a stone plaque at least 10 feet high in the visitors' center notes that Clinton dedicated the landmark in 1997.

At the other end of the spectrum is President Warren G. Harding. In 1922, he dedicated the Lincoln Memorial before an audience in which blacks and whites sat separately. Nothing about the dedication or Harding's role is carved into the memorial. Instead, an exhibit in the basement includes a photo of the dedication, with a caption noting that "President Harding, not known as a public speaker, did find the words to express the real meaning of the Lincoln Memorial."

Chester A. Arthur provides further proof that presiding at a memorial's dedication does not ensure fame. Arthur, mostly recalled for being an unmemorable president, formally dedicated the Washington Monument in 1885, a fact that is noted on a bronze plaque near the entrance rather than on the monument itself.

Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower also got low-key treatment. An inscription on the cornerstone of the Jefferson Memorial notes that Roosevelt laid the stone in 1939. Eisenhower presided at the 1954 dedication ceremony for the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, better known as the Iwo Jima memorial, but earned no more than a mention on a separate informational panel.

The name of Herbert Hoover, however, is directly engraved on the D.C. War Memorial. Hoover dedicated the memorial, a tribute to District residents who served in World War I, in 1931.

The most unusual case is that of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, formally added to the city's memorial roster in 1982. Ronald Reagan was the sitting president. But the memorial's design had been so heavily criticized that "it was deemed too controversial at the time for the president to attend," said Jan C. Scruggs, president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. Orphaned by the White House but loved by the nation, the memorial bears no presidential name. >>
 

Gedunker

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jordanb said:
Ok, I get it, they faught for government subsidized sprawl. :-D
Hardly. It was a duplex built in 1897 in a borough of 2 sq. mi. and a population of 23,000.
 

jresta

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Tranplanner said:
I don't know why, but the pictures of the crowds lounging around and dipping their toes in the reflecting pool kind of bothers me a little. I guess my notion of a war memorial is a more solemn kind of place like the Vietnam Memorial, or even the Peacekeepers Memorial in Ottawa.

I'll get over it.
I understand but at the same time Vietnam and WWII were totally different wars. Vietnam still has a lot of anxiety attached to it and, well, all the names on that wall were people who died for nothing.

WWII has a very triumphal feeling to it - it just doesn't seem like a war to be depressed about. The people who died fighting in it did so for a good reason and we're here today because of it.

biscuit said:
I was thinking the exact same thing. I suppose that the thought was to have a grand monument to a grand war, but it seems a bit, well...imperial. Why the blatantly ironic to use fascist/nazi era design?
What about the irony in the Vietnam War Memorial?
a hole in the earth 10 ft. deep with a granite wall in the shape of a chevron?

"I though about what death is, what a loss is. A sharp pain that lessens with time, but can never quite heal over. A scar. The idea occurred to me there on the site. Take a knife and cut open the earth, and with time the grass would heal it. As if you cut open the rock and polished it."

- - - Maya Lin


maybe the biggest irony of all is that our national promenade is being covered with the names of our war dead, and we've only covered the wars of the last 60 years.
I think that says more about us as a people than it does about how we honor the fallen.
 
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Tranplanner

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jresta said:
I understand but at the same time Vietnam and WWII were totally different wars. Vietnam still has a lot of anxiety attached to it and, well, all the names on that wall were people who died for nothing.

WWII has a very triumphal feeling to it - it just doesn't seem like a war to be depressed about. The people who died fighting in it did so for a good reason and we're here today because of it.
Perhaps it's a slight difference in perception between U.S. and British (Commonwealth) points of view. While I agree WWII has a triumphal good v. evil feeling about it - from the British point of view it is also bittersweet as it physically and financially drained the country and marked the end of the empire. While I would be the first to admit that the British Empire was oppressive and deserved to die, it was a damn sight better than the empires vying to succeed it.
 
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