Post: Veterans Day and the World War II Memorial

Dear Coalition Friends:

This article about the World War II Memorial ran in yesterday’s (November 12th) Washington Post. The online story includes a photograph of the partially completed Memorial:

For WWII Veterans, A Memorial Day To Long Remember

By Natalie Hopkinson
Washington Post Staff Writer

Wednesday, November 12, 2003; Page C01

As the U.S. and District of Columbia flags flapped furiously near a podium planted in the middle of the Mall yesterday, officials announced that next May’s unveiling of the National World War II Memorial will kick off a grand, citywide, months-long tribute with more than 60 events befitting the “Greatest Generation.”

Several World War II veterans were on hand for the Veterans Day announcement of a celebration that organizers say will be the “defining event so that the Greatest Generation will be remembered in the hearts and minds of Americans,” said Bill Hanbury, president of the Washington Convention and Tourism Corp., one of the organizers.

Construction of the World War II monument is on schedule for a Memorial Day grand opening celebration next year and the beginning of a string of related exhibitions, performances, tours and a veterans reunion staged in the Washington area through Labor Day. With construction near completion and the long debates and lawsuits over the location abated, organizers seemed relieved the memorial will be realized in time for surviving WWII veterans to see the day.

“It’s been a long journey, but we are on schedule to open in May,” said retired Maj. Gen. John P. Herrling of the American Battle Monuments Commission. Though the site is filled with gray dust, and massive cranes are still poised for action, Herrling pointed out that much progress has been made. The monument’s 56 gray granite pillars etched with the names of the U.S. states and territories during that era have been erected around the circular “memorial plaza” design.

Visible is the round outline for the Rainbow Pool and Waterworks, which will complement fountains at the base of the 43-foot arches forming two side entrances. Next month, Herrling said, workers begin installing the gold stars on the Freedom Wall commemorating the 400,000 Americans who gave their lives during the war.

Memorial officials detailed the first four days of events marking the unveiling of Washington’s newest monument May 27-30. The festivities will include a musical salute by the armed forces at MCI Center, an interfaith memorial service at the Washington National Cathedral and a four-day tented reunion for WWII veterans on the Mall.

But the party won’t end there. World War II-themed cultural programming will take place around Washington through Labor Day. The Web site has been established to provide details. Some highlights:

* March-September: The National Women’s History Museum will host the exhibit “Partners in Winning the War — The Women in World War II,” which honors the contributions of civilian women in the community, industry, production, research and the home.

* May 19-Aug. 30: The Corcoran Gallery of Art hosts an exhibit of Norman Rockwell’s “Four Freedoms” series of posters, based on President Roosevelt’s 1941 speech to Congress, that were used to raise millions of dollars in war bonds.

* May 27-28: “Remembering the Pupil of the Eye: African-Americans in WWII,” a lecture and presentation by William H. Smith, who produced the PBS documentary “The Invisible Soldiers: Unheard Voices,” will be held at Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives.

* May 28-30; June 5, 12, 19 and 26; July 3, 10, 17, 24, 31; Aug. 7, 14, 21, 28; and Sept. 4: Participants can go on a three-hour walking tour of “Eleanor Roosevelt’s Washington,” which shows the wartime first lady’s favorite memorial and her first home in Washington.

* May 28-29: There will be a performance of the “Road to Victory” musical, a combination of news reports, speeches by Roosevelt and song and dance, at Lisner Auditorium. The show was originally produced as a 1940s radio program.

* May 31: More than 40 veterans and military units, floats, marching bands and celebrities will parade down Constitution Avenue in “A Parade Salute to WWII Veterans.”

* June 9-10: The Dance Institute of Washington and Washington Reflections Dance Company will premiere “Washington Swing,” a ballet dedicated to the early 1940s, when war-weary Americans flocked to dance halls to do the Lindy Hop and jitterbug.

* July 17-18: “USO Weekend in Alexandria” will pay tribute to vets with a military band concert and a performance by the Liberty Belles.


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