11.03.19: War memorial

Visitors walk past the fountains in the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.


Technical information

April 12, 2005, 
10:52 a.m.

38°53'23.32" N 77°2'24.949" W
(Show in Google Maps)

Canon EOS 20D

Canon EF 28-135 (28mm) 


1/100th second


Washington, D.C. is a city filled with monuments and memorials.

The World War II Memorial on the National Mall is one of the newer ones. It opened in 2004, dedicated to Americans who served in the military during World War II. The memorial attracts almost 5 million visitors a year, including many aging World War II veterans brought to D.C. on non-profit Honor Flights to visit the site that honors their service.

The World War II Memorial stands between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial at the eastern end of the Reflecting Pool. The memorial has 56 granite pillars arranged in a semicircle, representing the 48 states that existed in 1945, along with the District of Columbia, the Alaska and Hawaii territories, the Philippines, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa  Two arches on opposite sides represent the regions of combat, “Atlantic” for the northern arch and “Pacific” for the southern one. In the center is a fountain.

The Freedom Wall, with 4,048 gold stars — each representing 100 Americans who died in the war, stands on the west side of the plaza. The stars surround a message: "Here we mark the price of freedom.”

This photo was taken in April 2005, a year after the monument opened. The trees were budding and the sky was a cloudless blue as I walked past the World War II Memorial after spending much of the morning at the nearby Vietnam Memorial wall. The Korean War Memorial is also nearby.

I started this blog by noting that Washington, D.C. is a city filled with monuments and memorials. As I looked up some information on the World War II Memorial I became curious about just how many monuments and memorials there are in D.C. After a couple of days of research on Google I decided there isn’t what I would consider a definitive list available online. I did find a Wikipedia page with links other Wikipedia pages about individual monuments and memorials in D.C., but I wasn’t sure if that was a complete list.

I did learn that Washington has 574 locations listed on the National Register of Historic Places (as of 2016), but that list includes the White House, the U.S. Capitol Building and a number of other similar locations. It’s not just a list of monuments or memorials.

Then there's a 2007 CBS News story headlined “Too Many Memorials in D.C.?” that said "We've got more than 160 monuments and memorials, even a statue celebrating José Artigas, the 'father of Uruguayan independence,' and one honoring victims of the Titanic.” 

So I’ll keep looking for the list that includes noted monuments and memorials like the General Jose de San Martin Memorial, commemorating an Argentine general who led that country and Peru to independence from the Spanish empire; or the Adams Memorial, a brooding statue commemorating Marian Hooper Adams, whose husband, Henry Adams, was a great grandson of President John Adams (Marian Hooper Adams suffered depression and committed suicide; the monument was commissioned by her grieving husband). And, of course, the Temperance Fountain, erected in the 1880s to encourage people to drink water instead of alcohol.

I guess the standards for siting new monuments in the nation’s capitol are a bit more restrictive now than they used to be. Or maybe not. There is, after all, a small, well-maintained park dedicated to Sonny Bono.

Each week I will post a photo from my collection with an explanation of how I got the shot. Previous photos of the week are in the archives.