World War II Memorial Fund Campaign Starts
By Master Sgt. Stephen Barrett, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 23, 1997 With its site selected and design approved, officials with the American Battle Monuments Commission now face their largest task in building the World War II Memorial -- raising $100 million for construction.
Still, commission officials said they are optimistic they will raise the funds needed to honor the 16 million World War II veterans and the millions of Americans who supported the war effort on the home front.
"It's difficult to raise money if you can't tell people what it's going to look like," said Joseph W. Purka Jr., public affairs director for the commission. "It wasn't until Jan. 17 of 1997 that President Clinton announced the winning design at the White House -- that was really the beginning of the fund raising."
That winning design, submitted by Friedrich St. Florian, will place the memorial at the Rainbow Pool, at the east end of the Reflecting Pool between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. Clinton dedicated the site on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 1995.
St. Florian, a professional architect based in Providence, R.I., won a year-long, nationwide competition against over 400 other entries. George E. Hartman of Hartman-Cox Architects and Oehme van Sweden and Associates -- both Washington-based firms -- will team with St. Florian in building the memorial.
The memorial will feature a 600-foot-wide plaza separating two curving colonnades, each with 25 40-foot columns. The plaza -- mandated by the commission -- preserves the scenic view of the Washington Mall between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. Designers will lower the current plaza area 14 feet, rebuilding the Rainbow Pool to enhance the memorial plaza.
Behind each set of columns will be curved 49-foot high stone walls and ceilings, covered with grass and landscaped with white roses. Purka said although plans for inside each area are not final, they may include a Hall of Remembrance and places for reflection.
Purka said the memorial is dedicated not only to those who fought in the Europe and Pacific theaters. "It's to recognize America as a whole," he said. "The war was the defining event of the 20th century and in many respects showed what Americans can accomplish if they are bonded together toward a common cause."
Currently, the commission has about $11.5 million raised toward the memorial's construction. Purka said $5 million came in initial start-up funds after Clinton and Congress directed the commission to begin construction planning. They also received some proceeds from commemorative coin sales -- money earned through the World War II 50th anniversary commemoration.
Still, Purka said, the commission knows most of the funds must come from corporations, foundations, veterans groups and private citizens. With the design unveiled last January, Purka said veterans groups like the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars have given the commission their support.
The commission has until 2000 to raise funds and start construction by.
The $100 million sought for the memorial includes $10 million for a National Park Service escrow account to cover future maintenance and upkeep. The memorial transfers to the National Park Service following dedication.
Part of remembering those who served and supported the World War II effort is the planned memorial's remembrance registry. Purka said citizens may submit information on themselves, their parents or grandparents to the registry by sending information about their World War II contribution. Visitors will be able to access these essays at the Hall of Remembrance.
However, the memorial will not be a museum of World War II history. "The design does allow for some closed space which will probably house the registry of remembrance," said Purka. "There will not be a curator, a museum staff or any attempts to collect, catalog and display memorabilia from World War II. It's designed to be a place of remembrance and reflection."
The American Battle Monuments Commission, in Washington, is responsible for establishing U.S. memorials as directed by Congress. It also administers, operates and maintains 24 permanent U.S. military cemeteries and 27 memorial structures in 15 countries.
Persons wishing to donate to the World War II Memorial or submit information to the registry of remembrance can send contributions to:
World War II Memorial Fund
P.O. Box 96766
Washington, D.C. 20090-6766