Looking through pictures I took during my famous walk through Washington DC in December 2009, I realized that I had in fact visited the National World War II Memorial. Two weeks ago, I visited the National World War I Museum in Kansas and had been wondering if indeed there was one dedicated to World War II so that I could go visit it sometime. It turns out that I have actually done so. The only thing I can say is that the experience did not come close to that of being in the Museum at Kansas City which is bigger and has more to see. This could explain why I could have seen it last year without noticing what it was.
It was night though, and I was already being pummeled by the a brutal cold to return to my hotel room on time to check in for the conference I’d gone there for. I was however egged on by a stubborn desire to complete my trek to the destination – the Lincoln Memorial where Martin Luther King had delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech many years before. Thinking about it now, I do not remember seeing the WWII Memorial on my way to the Lincoln Memorial at all (even though I remember taking this picture of a sign that pointed towards it.).
However, on my way back I remember walking through the cove of lights surrounding a fountain and pausing to admire its beauty. There were very large pillars of like shapes standing around in a big circle. The warm glow from the lights there made it look like a night gathering of hunters in an East African jungle. I thought there were fifty pillars, because on each one of them was written the name of a different state in the United States. I managed to take a few pictures of the states I recognized, and moved on. I didn’t know that where I was standing was the newly constructed National World War II Memorial. I could not have guessed it from the appearance either. Nothing from the looks of it made it even remotely suggestive of that kind of theme. It was an open space just across the road, facing the Washington Monument. It was however a charming experience.
It was my pleasure then to realize a few days ago that I’d actually (almost) already completed my tour of duty as regards the two major world wars and their memorials in the country. It only took me one year to find it out, and it comes with fond memories of my visit to the nation’s capital. Reading up the wikipedia entry on the WWII Memorial in Washington, one of the criticisms of the memorial that seemed to rhyme with my own reflection on passing through the structure was the fact that the pillars standing there were named after the states rather than fallen heroes/soldiers from the war. Of course, a closer reading of the article also suggests that there is a wall within that complex which was erected for the purpose of honouring them. It has 4,048 gold stars, each star representing 100 soldiers that died in the war.
When next I find myself in the capital, I hope to pay a second and most detailed visit. Until then, I’ll keep scouring the internet for links to more places that have relevance to the Second World War. I have already found two, one in Massachusetts near Boston, and the other in New Orleans.