Inspiring Words Grace World War II Memorial Walls
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May. 28, 2004 Inspirational tributes and poignant quotations from famous, important military and civilian figures are inscribed into the walls around the National World War II Memorial.
A D-Day, June 6, 1944, remark by Army Gen. Dwight D.
Eisenhower, who later was elected president of the United States. Photo by Rudi
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The memorial's announcement stone reads, "Here in the presence of Washington and Lincoln, one the 18th century father and the other the 19th century preserver of our nation, we honor those 20th century Americans who took up the struggle during the Second World War and made the sacrifices to perpetuate the gift our forefathers entrusted to us: a nation conceived in liberty and justice."
The imposing memorial at the National Mall here honors not only the hundreds of thousands of Americans who lost their lives on the battlefields of Europe, the Pacific and East Asia, but also the millions who fought and returned home, and those who supported them. It also honors millions of women who performed "men's jobs" in factories and other places to free men for the battlefield and to keep America running.
The memorial's eastern corners feature quotations from President Franklin D. Roosevelt, including his famous, "December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy." There are also words from Navy Adm. Chester W. Nimitz and Army Col. Oveta Culp Hobby, the director of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, which later became the Women's Army Corps during World War II.
"They had no right to win. Yet they did, and in doing so they changed the course of war," inscribed on one of the memorial's southern walls, is a quotation from author Walter Lord about the June 4-7, 1942, Battle of Midway.
The southern walls also are inscribed with words from Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur, spoken at the war's end: "Today the guns are silent. A great tragedy has ended."
The northern walls are etched with words from Army Gen. George C. Marshall and Army Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. On D-Day, June 6, 1944, Eisenhower said, "You are about to embark upon the great crusade toward which we have striven these many months."
Two quotations from President Harry S. Truman grace the memorial's western corners. One reads, "The debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid."
The memorial's southern fountain includes inscribed names of countries such as China, Burma, India, Southwest Pacific, Central Pacific and North Pacific. The northern fountain's names include North Africa, Southern Europe, Western Europe and Central Europe.
The southern and northern arches are inscribed with, "1941-1945, Victory on Land, Victory at Sea and Victory in the Air."
The "Freedom Wall Field of Gold Stars" is graced with 4,000 gold stars commemorating more than 400,000 Americans who give their lives in the war. One inscription there sums up the memorial's meaning: "Here we mark the price of freedom."