On April 29, 2004, the Second World War Memorial opened in Washington, D.C., to thousands of visitors, offering expected recognition to the 16 million American men and women who served during the war. The memorial is located on 7.4 acres on the former site of the Rainbow Pool at the National Mall between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. The Capitol Dome is seen to the east, and Arlington Cemetery is just across the Potomac River to the west.
READ MORE: World War II: Causes and Chronology
The granite and bronze monument presents fountains between the arches symbolizing hostilities in Europe and the Far East. The arches are flanked by semicircles of pillars, one for the states, territories and the district of Columbia. Beyond the pool is a curved wall of 4,000 gold stars, one for every 100 Americans killed in the war. A stone announces that the memorial pays tribute to the “Americans who took the fight during the Second World War and made the sacrifices to perpetuate the gift that our ancestors entrusted to us: a nation conceived in freedom and justice.” “
Although the federal government donated $ 16 million to the memorial fund, it took more than $ 164 million in private donations to build it. Former Kansas senator Bob Dole, who was seriously injured in the war, and actor Tom Hanks were among his most vocal supporters. Only a fraction of the 16 million Americans who served during the war would see it. According to government records, four million World War II veterans lived at the time, and more than 1,100 died every day.
The memorial was inspired by Roger Durbin de Berkey, Ohio, who served under General George S. Patton. During a fish fry near Toledo in February 1987, he asked American representative Marcy Kaptur why there was no memorial in the mall to honor WWII veterans. Kaptur, a Democrat from Ohio, quickly introduced a law to build one, initiating a process that would stumble over 17 years of legislative, legal and artistic entanglement. Durbin died of pancreatic cancer in 2000.
The monument was officially dedicated on May 29, 2004 by the President George W. Bush.