It’s taken a long time, but there’s finally a memorial in Washington, D.C., to honor the 4.7 million Americans who served in — and nearly 117,000 Americans who died in — World War I.
The American flag was raised for the first time at the World War I Memorial’s opening on April 16. The First Colors Ceremony even featured pre-recorded remarks from President Joe Biden.
“The time is long overdue for the World War I Memorial to take its rightful place among the memorials of the nation’s capital that pay tribute to the men and women who served and sacrificed in America’s armed conflicts,”?Jeff Reinbold, superintendent of National Mall and Memorial Parks said in a statement. “The National Park Service is honored to serve as a keeper of America’s stories, and to care for this incredible memorial at which we honor those who served both ‘Over There’ and on the home front in World War I.”
A Historic Setting
The memorial is located at the former Pershing Park, a 1.76-acre space along Pennsylvania Avenue across from the White House Visitor Center. Built by the United States World War I Centennial Commission and designed by architect Joseph Weishaar, the new memorial includes some features of the old park, including memorial walls with engraved quotes as well as references to theaters, campaigns, and battles.
The World War I Memorial also features a statue of General John J. Pershing. “Known as the General of the Armies, Pershing returned home a national hero after he commanded the American Expeditionary Forces on the Western Front in World War I,” an article on Stars and Stripes explains.
A Fitting Tribute
There are two main features of the memorial that stand out and make a lasting impression. One is the Peace Fountain, which the National Park Service calls “a cascade of water” behind an excerpt from the poem “The Young Dead Soldiers Do Not Speak” by Archibald MacLeish.
“The memorial’s central feature, a sculpture titled A Soldier’s Journey, is scheduled for installation in 2024,” according to the National Park Service. “The 58-foot-long bas-relief sculpture by Sabin Howard will feature 38 [nearly full-size] figures depicting the journey of a recurring American soldier and representing the larger American experience of World War I.”
The World War I Memorial has “interpretive educational content that describes the conflict, the people who were in it, and the ways that it impacted and changed the world,” Weishaar said in an NBC Washington story. “The sculpture is really the story of American involvement in the war.”
Know Before You Go
The World War I Memorial is on Pennsylvania Avenue — between 14th Street NW and 15th Street NW — adjacent to the Treasury Department. It is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can learn more about the memorial, its history, and even watch the historic First Colors Ceremony here.
As a reminder, face masks are currently required on all lands administered by the National Park Service when physical distancing cannot be maintained. They also are required in all National Park Service buildings and facilities. For more inspiring monuments, consider
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