History Podcasts

National WWII Memorial

National WWII Memorial


The Memorial

On June 6th, 1944 United States soldiers, in one of the most pivotal battles of World War II, invaded the French coastline in order to propel German soldiers out of Western Europe and lead the way for victory against the tyrants of that era. Dedicated on June 6th, 2001 by president George W. Bush, the National D-Day Memorial was constructed in honor of those who died that day, fighting in one of the most significant battles in our nations history.

The monument receives an average of 60,000 visitors a year and is a profound addition to America’s War Memorials. Initiated by D-Day veteran J. Robert “Bob” Slaughter, the structure encompasses more than 50 acres at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains. At its center stands a monumental forty-four foot tall arch, embellished by the military name, “Overlord,” that was given to the crucial operation. The arch is highlighted by a reflecting pool that surrounds a captivating scene that is symbolic of the arduous trudge soldiers made onto the blood stained beaches of Normandy, France.

As stated by President George W. Bush in his dedication speech, “Fifty-seven years ago, America and the nations of Europe formed a bond that has never been broken. And all of us incurred a debt that can never be repaid. Today, as America dedicates our D-Day Memorial, we pray that our country will always be worthy of the courage that delivered us from evil and saved the free world.”

The grounds for the monument take visitors on a archival journey through World War II and the politics and perils that embody the time period. Paying tribute to the men and women who served their country in one of its most dire battles, the D-Day National Memorial creates a solemn atmosphere for veterans and visitors alike to gain insight and learn more about the events that shaped our nation’s and our world’s history.


At WWII Memorial, a complicated question: To wade or not to wade?


With afternoon temperatures in the mid- to high-80s on June 26, tourists took the opportunity to cool off in the National World War II Memorial’s Rainbow Pool. (Mary Hui/TWP)

The summer sun is blazing down, and at the National World War II Memorial, shade is hard to come by. You stare at the inviting pool, the jets of cool water spurting from the memorial’s fountain beckon you forward. Do you dip your toes in or, better yet, wade in for relief from the heat?

You could, but you would be violating National Park Service rules — as signs at the memorial clearly state. And, in the minds of some, it is also tacky and disrespectful.

Washington is a city of memorials — somber places where we reflect on who we are and those who have perished fighting for the nation’s ideals. It is also a city full of tourists on Segways and hordes of school kids in matching uniforms. Every day, those two worlds collide. How, exactly, is one supposed to strike the delicate balance between relaxed vacationing and respectful, dignified reflection?

On a recent Sunday afternoon, with the temperature in the high 80s, Eric Echevarria, 31, of Atlantic City, carried his toddler in his arms and waded several feet into the memorial’s Rainbow Pool. Multiple signs along the edge of the pool clearly read: “Honor Your Veterans. No wading. Coins damage fountain,” but he either did not see them or paid no heed.

The memorial’s pool, Echevarria said, is a place to “relax, cool off” after a long day of walking. “People will say what they say,” he said, dismissing the idea that wading might be inappropriate or disrespectful. “It’s all about what the value [of the memorial] is or what the meaning is to you.”

Some say wading in the pool is disrespectful to the meaning of the National World War II Memorial. (Mary Hui/TWP)

Nearby, Ashlee Montgomery, from Maryland, sat on the edge of the pool with her feet in the water as her 6-year-old son splashed around.

“Well, my thought is that I don’t have a problem with it, because I’m in it,” Montgomery said. “It’s a place to come and spend time with family.”

Montgomery, who said that her grandfather fought in World War II, disputed the notion that wading in the water takes away from the memorial’s significance. She comes to learn about the war, she said, and her son asks her questions about the war. “It pulls people in,” she said.

Still, there are many who are shocked by the scene of hundreds of tourists wading in the shadows of the memorial’s majestic stone slabs. To them, the contrast between the hallowed space of the memorial and the almost water-park ambiance is jarring.

“This is a memorial, this is not a pool,” said Jasmine Daniel, 20, a senior at Howard University.

Daniel, an interpretation intern with the National Mall and Memorial Parks, said there needs to be “a discernment between reflection and recreation” — something she does not see right now.

The issue of tourists behaving badly “is, unfortunately, a challenge we see every summer, not just at the World War II Memorial but at memorials throughout the city,” said Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles, a Park Service spokeswoman. “We hope that members of the public will choose to respect these sacred places and the people they honor.” But there is not much officials can do other than making an “educational contact” and encouraging people to heed the posted signs, Anzelmo-Sarles added.

Veterans and their families have also taken umbrage at the carefree splashing, said Holly Rotondi, executive director of Friends of the National World War II Memorial.

The memorial honors the 16 million who served in the U.S. armed forces and the more than 400,000 who died in World War II.

Rotondi said she recently received a phone call from the son of a World War II veteran complaining about visitors dipping their feet in the water, saying it was “very disrespectful to the generation” who fought in and lived through the war. And two years ago, a photo of a man changing a child’s diaper on the edge of the pool caused an uproar, she said.

Rotondi said the issue is “very controversial” and “highly emotional.”

“I can certainly understand both sides, and I can certainly sympathize with both sides, but . . . there’s a limit to what can be tolerated at a national memorial.”

It is easy to see why something seemingly as trivial as wading into a pool can engender so much disagreement when you look back at the history of the memorial, which was mired in controversy from its inception.

From as early as 1995 until its official opening in 2004, the design and location of the memorial was the subject of a heated battle. Early opponents of the memorial’s design said it was too large and would block the sweeping vista between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. After its construction, critics such as Blake Gopnik, then the chief art critic at The Washington Post, slammed the memorial for being “all stock celebration, not true commemoration,” “bland and backward-looking” and “with so little eloquence that it demands subtitles.”

But for Gopnik, it is the very failure of the memorial to evoke veterans’ greatness and courage that makes it acceptable, and perhaps even necessary, for visitors to wade into the pool.

“There is a slight, dare I say, fascist tone to the memorial,” said Gopnik, now a critic-at-large for artnet News. It is the monument that is disrespectful to the legacy of the veterans, he said, and people wading into the pool are “willfully fighting the spirit of that particular memorial, the faults of the memorial, the problems of the memorial.”

By fighting back, Gopnik said, people are turning the memorial into something about democracy — something the veterans fought and sacrificed their lives for.

“I think it’s wonderful and respectful towards what veterans fought for . . . to turn [the memorial] into a place where they can go and frolic, almost like putting a pool in your back yard and telling neighbors to come and play,” Gopnik said. “That’s a good American thing.”

The very meaning and purpose of a memorial should also be considered carefully, said Julian Bonder, a professor of architecture at Roger Williams University who has researched the relationship involving memory, public space and memorials.

“Memorials are related to life. Even though they can be related to mourning, that mourning is about something absent, which is life, or people who gave their life,” he said.

“Should one put their feet in a fountain when it’s a hundred degrees in Washington? . . . I’m not advocating that people take a swim in those fountains, but I don’t think it’s extremely disrespectful just to put your feet in the water, especially if those feet in the water makes the visitor feel alive,” Bonder added. “There is a strong connection between life and death at these memorials.”

Then there is the fact that the memorials inhabit a democratic, public space.

The question of proper behavior at memorials “is always based on the notion that democracy is uncertain,” Bonder said. Memorials commemorate the people who fought for democratic ideals, and an important question to keep in mind, Bonder said, is, “How do we honor those who gave their lives for us to enjoy our lives in freedom?”

The conundrum of how to behave at public spaces and memorials is not limited to the nation’s capital. At the National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York, some have been offended by the sight of kids running around and tourists taking selfies. And earlier this year, a group called High on Life, a trio of young Canadian men who make travel videos for a living, was criticized after a photo emerged showing them clowning around at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin.

Back at the National World War II Memorial, James Panzetta, 90, reflected on the war. The veteran from Pennsylvania fought with the 10th Armored Division in Germany, and this was his first visit to the memorial. As Panzetta put it, he “replaced the people killed at the Battle of the Bulge.” Seeing people dipping their feet into the water and wading in the pool takes away from the memorial, he said, “but most of these people don’t even remember the war.” For him, it is better that visitors come and wade than to stay away and forget.

And if he had his say, what changes would he make to the rules at the memorial?

“I certainly wouldn’t have a dog in it,” Panzetta answered without missing a beat.


The National World War II Memorial

The National World War II Memorial in Washington DC is a US monument commemorating the Second World War, particularly those who fought in the US armed forces and those civilians who assisted in and were affected by the conflict.

World War II was a multi-national conflict initially prompted by Germany’s invasion of Poland and which took place from 1939 until 1945, when the Allies emerged victorious. The US entered the war in 1941 as it declared war on Japan for its attack on Pearl Harbor. A staggering sixteen million US troops participated in the war.

The National World War II Memorial is a circular fountain surrounded by fifty-six columns and two arches. To the west of the National World War II Memorial is a wall, known as the Freedom Wall, containing 4,048 stars, each representing 100 Americans who perished in the conflict. Also displayed are films and photographic depictions of the war and those who fought in it.


At WWII Memorial, a complicated question: To wade or not to wade?


With afternoon temperatures in the mid- to high-80s on June 26, tourists took the opportunity to cool off in the National World War II Memorial’s Rainbow Pool. (Mary Hui/TWP)

The summer sun is blazing down, and at the National World War II Memorial, shade is hard to come by. You stare at the inviting pool, the jets of cool water spurting from the memorial’s fountain beckon you forward. Do you dip your toes in or, better yet, wade in for relief from the heat?

You could, but you would be violating National Park Service rules — as signs at the memorial clearly state. And, in the minds of some, it is also tacky and disrespectful.

Washington is a city of memorials — somber places where we reflect on who we are and those who have perished fighting for the nation’s ideals. It is also a city full of tourists on Segways and hordes of school kids in matching uniforms. Every day, those two worlds collide. How, exactly, is one supposed to strike the delicate balance between relaxed vacationing and respectful, dignified reflection?

On a recent Sunday afternoon, with the temperature in the high 80s, Eric Echevarria, 31, of Atlantic City, carried his toddler in his arms and waded several feet into the memorial’s Rainbow Pool. Multiple signs along the edge of the pool clearly read: “Honor Your Veterans. No wading. Coins damage fountain,” but he either did not see them or paid no heed.

The memorial’s pool, Echevarria said, is a place to “relax, cool off” after a long day of walking. “People will say what they say,” he said, dismissing the idea that wading might be inappropriate or disrespectful. “It’s all about what the value [of the memorial] is or what the meaning is to you.”

Some say wading in the pool is disrespectful to the meaning of the National World War II Memorial. (Mary Hui/TWP)

Nearby, Ashlee Montgomery, from Maryland, sat on the edge of the pool with her feet in the water as her 6-year-old son splashed around.

“Well, my thought is that I don’t have a problem with it, because I’m in it,” Montgomery said. “It’s a place to come and spend time with family.”

Montgomery, who said that her grandfather fought in World War II, disputed the notion that wading in the water takes away from the memorial’s significance. She comes to learn about the war, she said, and her son asks her questions about the war. “It pulls people in,” she said.

Still, there are many who are shocked by the scene of hundreds of tourists wading in the shadows of the memorial’s majestic stone slabs. To them, the contrast between the hallowed space of the memorial and the almost water-park ambiance is jarring.

“This is a memorial, this is not a pool,” said Jasmine Daniel, 20, a senior at Howard University.

Daniel, an interpretation intern with the National Mall and Memorial Parks, said there needs to be “a discernment between reflection and recreation” — something she does not see right now.

The issue of tourists behaving badly “is, unfortunately, a challenge we see every summer, not just at the World War II Memorial but at memorials throughout the city,” said Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles, a Park Service spokeswoman. “We hope that members of the public will choose to respect these sacred places and the people they honor.” But there is not much officials can do other than making an “educational contact” and encouraging people to heed the posted signs, Anzelmo-Sarles added.

Veterans and their families have also taken umbrage at the carefree splashing, said Holly Rotondi, executive director of Friends of the National World War II Memorial.

The memorial honors the 16 million who served in the U.S. armed forces and the more than 400,000 who died in World War II.

Rotondi said she recently received a phone call from the son of a World War II veteran complaining about visitors dipping their feet in the water, saying it was “very disrespectful to the generation” who fought in and lived through the war. And two years ago, a photo of a man changing a child’s diaper on the edge of the pool caused an uproar, she said.

Rotondi said the issue is “very controversial” and “highly emotional.”

“I can certainly understand both sides, and I can certainly sympathize with both sides, but . . . there’s a limit to what can be tolerated at a national memorial.”

It is easy to see why something seemingly as trivial as wading into a pool can engender so much disagreement when you look back at the history of the memorial, which was mired in controversy from its inception.

From as early as 1995 until its official opening in 2004, the design and location of the memorial was the subject of a heated battle. Early opponents of the memorial’s design said it was too large and would block the sweeping vista between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. After its construction, critics such as Blake Gopnik, then the chief art critic at The Washington Post, slammed the memorial for being “all stock celebration, not true commemoration,” “bland and backward-looking” and “with so little eloquence that it demands subtitles.”

But for Gopnik, it is the very failure of the memorial to evoke veterans’ greatness and courage that makes it acceptable, and perhaps even necessary, for visitors to wade into the pool.

“There is a slight, dare I say, fascist tone to the memorial,” said Gopnik, now a critic-at-large for artnet News. It is the monument that is disrespectful to the legacy of the veterans, he said, and people wading into the pool are “willfully fighting the spirit of that particular memorial, the faults of the memorial, the problems of the memorial.”

By fighting back, Gopnik said, people are turning the memorial into something about democracy — something the veterans fought and sacrificed their lives for.

“I think it’s wonderful and respectful towards what veterans fought for . . . to turn [the memorial] into a place where they can go and frolic, almost like putting a pool in your back yard and telling neighbors to come and play,” Gopnik said. “That’s a good American thing.”

The very meaning and purpose of a memorial should also be considered carefully, said Julian Bonder, a professor of architecture at Roger Williams University who has researched the relationship involving memory, public space and memorials.

“Memorials are related to life. Even though they can be related to mourning, that mourning is about something absent, which is life, or people who gave their life,” he said.

“Should one put their feet in a fountain when it’s a hundred degrees in Washington? . . . I’m not advocating that people take a swim in those fountains, but I don’t think it’s extremely disrespectful just to put your feet in the water, especially if those feet in the water makes the visitor feel alive,” Bonder added. “There is a strong connection between life and death at these memorials.”

Then there is the fact that the memorials inhabit a democratic, public space.

The question of proper behavior at memorials “is always based on the notion that democracy is uncertain,” Bonder said. Memorials commemorate the people who fought for democratic ideals, and an important question to keep in mind, Bonder said, is, “How do we honor those who gave their lives for us to enjoy our lives in freedom?”

The conundrum of how to behave at public spaces and memorials is not limited to the nation’s capital. At the National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York, some have been offended by the sight of kids running around and tourists taking selfies. And earlier this year, a group called High on Life, a trio of young Canadian men who make travel videos for a living, was criticized after a photo emerged showing them clowning around at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin.

Back at the National World War II Memorial, James Panzetta, 90, reflected on the war. The veteran from Pennsylvania fought with the 10th Armored Division in Germany, and this was his first visit to the memorial. As Panzetta put it, he “replaced the people killed at the Battle of the Bulge.” Seeing people dipping their feet into the water and wading in the pool takes away from the memorial, he said, “but most of these people don’t even remember the war.” For him, it is better that visitors come and wade than to stay away and forget.

And if he had his say, what changes would he make to the rules at the memorial?

“I certainly wouldn’t have a dog in it,” Panzetta answered without missing a beat.


Today in History: Born on June 27

Louis XII, King of France (1498-1515).

Emma Goldman, Lithuanian-born American anarchist, feminist and birth control advocate.

Paul Laurence Dunbar, African-American poet and writer.

Antoinette Perry, actress and director, namesake of the "Tony" Awards.

Richard Bissell, novelist and playwright.

Willie Mosconi, professional billiards player.

Frank O'Hara, American poet.

Bob Keeshan, American television actor, best known as "Captain Kangaroo."

Alice McDermott, writer (That Night, At Weddings and Wakes).


Events

Friends of the National World War II Memorial COVID-19 Response
To see our response to COVID-19 and how it will affect our events, please click here.

If you would like to send a message to a World War II veteran who may be isolated during the novel coronavirus crisis, please click here.

Ongoing
WWII Memorial Commemorative Coin Campaign
To support our efforts, please click here.

Monday, July 19-Friday, July 23
6th Annual Teachers Conference
More information here.

Thursday, September 2 at 11 a.m. ET
V-J Day at the World War II Memorial

Wednesday, June 8-Tuesday, June 14, 2022
Victory In Europe Tour with Alex Kershaw
More information here.


History & Culture

The World War II Memorial honors the service of 16 million members of the Armed Forces of the United States of America, the support of countless millions on the home front, and the ultimate sacrifice of 405,399 Americans. On May 29, 2004, a four-day “grand reunion” of veterans on the National Mall culminated in the dedication of this tribute to the legacy of “The Greatest Generation.”

Twenty-four bronze bas-relief panels flank the ceremonial entrance. To many, these panels stir memories as they tell the story of America's experience in the war. Granite columns representing each U.S. state and territory at the time of World War II ring an impressive pool with water shooting high into the air. Quotes, references to theaters, campaigns, and battles, and two massive victory pavilions chronicle the efforts Americans undertook to win the war. A wall of 4,048 gold stars reminds all of the supreme sacrifice made by over 400,000 Americans to make that victory possible.

Visitors can also search the World War II Registry , a computerized database honoring Americans who helped win the war, either overseas or on the home front.
You may also look through our People | Places | Stories sections to find out more about the memorial and its context in telling the story of one of the most important eras in American History.


A History of U.S. Submarine Veterans WWII & National Memorial West

Located just north of U.S. Submarine Veterans Highway on the exterior grounds of Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station sits a "Living Memorial." This tree-lined, World War II Memorial, dedicated in 1977 pays tribute to the 52 lost submarines and 3505 men who perished. The site is also the home of two other monuments dedicated to the Cold War losses of Thresher and Scorpion. Ground level, as you enter the Memorial, a marble plaque is inscribed with these words "Walk softy stranger, walk softly, you tread on hallowed ground." Indeed U.S. Submarine Veterans WWII National Memorial West is "hallowed ground."

U.S. Submarine Veterans WWII & National Memorial West

To tell the story of the Memorial one must include the historical background of the L.A. Chapter of WWII Submarine Veterans.

The organization "U.S. Submarine Veterans of World War II" was formed in 1955 by surviving members of the U.S. Navy's elite Submarine Service. The First National Convention (Reunion) was held at the Ambassador Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey on September 23-25, 1955. Of the approximately sixty that registered only thirty attended but it was considered a success as it was the impetus that got the organization going. The Second Annual Convention (Reunion) was again held in Atlantic City, New Jersey from September 28-30, 1956. This time over two hundred submarine veterans came from all parts of the country, representing every boat active during World War II. That was also the start of special dedications for each individual lost boat.

The organization was incorporated under the laws of the State of New Jersey on February 15, 1956. At the 1960 San Diego National Convention the first application was made for a Federal Charter. Twenty-one years later, after several attempts, a Federal Charter was granted on November 20, 1981 during the Ronald Reagan administration under Title 36 of the United States Code, Chapter 2207.

In 1960 the Los Angeles Chapter began as a spin-off by a number of members of the San Diego Chapter. Early meetings were held at member's homes, briefly at the Hollywood American Legion and eventually ending up at Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station (NWS). It was then that the Chapter started to experience rapid growth. The group hosted numerous regional meetings held at facilities such as the Newporter Inn in Newport Beach, Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park and in 1993 they held their first National Convention, the 39th, at the Disneyland Hotel. The Los Angeles group became known as one of the best Chapters within the organization.

From the beginning, even though small in numbers, the group had a dream of someday constructing a memorial to honor the lost boats and shipmates who courageously made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. During one of the early meetings in 1972 at the home of Chapter President Bill Holland, the veterans decided to start the formal planning for a memorial. First and foremost they needed money, they would also need to obtain a suitable site and another prime need would be a torpedo. Since several Chapters had already erected memorials with a torpedo as the focal point, and not wanting to be outdone, they concluded that their memorial would also need a torpedo.

The committee knew that finding a suitable site was going to be difficult so with gusto they started fund-raising activities and the relentless hunt for a torpedo.

One of the first fundraisers was called "Nite at the Races" held at Los Alamitos Race Track. The event not only created a little bit of revenue they also had a great time and continued the event for a number of years. The members also held monthly brunches, steak fry's, backyard barbeques, pool parties and countless raffles. The ladies also pitched in by conducting rummage and yard sales and constructing and selling Christmas Cheer Baskets.

Several failed attempts were made to obtain a torpedo. Eventually member Harold Ballenger zeroed in on an available Mark 14 Torpedo located at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard. Since Harold was a determined individual and a two-time past National President, he used his clout and strong will to seal this appropriation.

On 12 March 1973, Louis & Austin Day pulled their truck into Hunters Point, signed for and loaded the torpedo aboard. They left Hunters Point in their wake, and headed south to Los Angeles, their prize torpedo firmly strapped down on the bed of the truck.

The Mark 14 was initially housed at Al Rupp's home in Carson then shortly after moved to the home of Mickey Foster in Manhattan Beach. That move nearly saw the demise of the torpedo when the undersized loading crane came close to collapsing. Weekend work parties gathered at Foster's home to remove the protective finish, sand and polish and return the torpedo to first-class condition. In spite of numerous beer and lunch breaks, filled with traditional sea stories, the project completed in due course. There was no doubt that this was a truly dedicated Chapter devoted to their goal.

The Memorial fund-raising efforts and hunt to find a site moved forward. They also started work on another identified need which was the "Lost Boat - Eternal Patrol Plaque." The plaque was found in Texas and procured with Chapter funds. Progress continued moving at flank speed.

Memorial Walkway Construction

The Chapters next big activity projected to bring publicity to the group and their efforts was the 1974 Huntington Beach 70th annual, 4th of July Parade, and did it ever! Armed with their freshly painted and restored Mk14 the group, by direction of float designer and builder Al Rupp, dressed the torpedo up in all its splendor to join the parade. With its bright and shinny warhead glistening in the sun, a mermaid riding on-top, along with over 65 members, wives and children marching along, it was no wonder it was awarded a first place trophy. That day the parade route was lined with over 100,000 applauding spectators, it made the nightly news and they picked up seven new members.

Since the Chapter had settled in with facilities to conduct meetings at Seal Beach Weapons Station, it seemed like the logical place for the Memorial site. After several requests and appeals to the base officers, resulting in negative responses, they decided to look elsewhere. They contacted Los Alamitos Naval Air Station and were informed that the facility was slated for closure. Back on the search their next target was the Long Beach Naval Base. Several positive meetings were held but when a final site was offered and its location was way off in the boondocks by the hanger for the Spruce Goose the members politely thanked the base for their courtesy and continued looking elsewhere. Next stop was Kings Harbor in Redondo Beach, Costa Mesa Cemetery and they even considered a site next to Independence Hall on the grounds of Knott?s Berry Farm. All requests were either denied or unacceptable options. It was beginning to appear that the Chapter was going to need some divine intervention to find a suitable site for the Memorial. It happened in the form of USS Drum 1975 ships reunion, held in Mobile, Alabama. Many members of the L.A. Chapter attended the Drum reunion that year. It was a special time, as few crewmen who made war patrols ever got the opportunity to board their boat in post war years.

Al Rupp and Son at Memorial Construction

Attending the reunion was Rear Admiral B.F. McMahon, a past Drum Skipper. Sometime during the reunion a few L.A. members were relating the sad situation to the RADM regarding their unsuccessful attempts to obtain a site to erect a L.A. area WWII Submarine Memorial. McMahon listened with interest. Since he had spent many of his post WWII career years at Washington, D.C. he had extensive inside knowledge of the workings of the Navy. He explained that the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station property came under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management, not the base command. McMahon promised upon his return home he would assist them and contact the bureau on their behalf.

Prepairing to Raise the Flag

Soon thereafter meetings resumed with NWS officials and potential locations discussed for consideration. After review a desirable site was eventually approved. The Memorial would be on the left side of the main entrance. Not only did the base move the fence to accommodate them, they also ran water, electrical and removed shrubbery. The only obstacle (at the time) was the "unsightly" tree in the center of the plot. Now it was up to the members to plan and start construction, which they did in zeal.

The site would contain 52 Italian Cypress trees, planted in a half circle, to represent the 52 lost submarines of WWII. (These trees did not last and were later replaced). In front of each tree would be a raised concrete slab with a brass plate displaying the name of each lost boat. The torpedo, flagpole, "Lost Boat Plaque", and two other plaques would front the memorial. A small reflection pool would stand directly behind.

On January 13, 1977 a ground breaking ceremony took place to officially get the project underway. Al Rupp (WWII POW, USS Grenadier SS 210) and his son directed the project and Chapter members helped with the necessary labor. The site soon took on the planned look. With the completion date scheduled for Memorial Day the members had a lot of work to do in a short period.

It was a spectacular and emotional day on May 30, 1977 when bugles sounded and Old Glory was raised up the flag pole for the first time to begin the National Memorial West Dedication Ceremony. It was an especially stirring moment when the flag hit the top of the pole and fluttered proudly in the warm Southern California breeze. One interesting phase of the service was putting the time capsule into its place at the base of the torpedo.

Time Capsule at Base of Torpedo Display

Every member of the illustrious Los Angeles Chapter had a lot to be proud of that day for the Memorial truly did and remains as a visual living monument to

Plaque Unvailing at Dedication Ceremony

"Perpetuate the Memory of Our Lost Shipmates". Since that day, numerous improvements and many ceremonies have taken place at this remarkable site. On Memorial Day in 1986 a dedication was held to unveil the newly installed individual concrete tablets with cast bronze plaques embedded with raised letters listing the names of each sailor lost. That year the Memorial Site was also designated as a "Living Memorial" and was adopted and designated by the National Organization by what it is now known "U.S. Submarine Veterans WWII National Memorial West."

On May 20, Armed Forces Day 2000, hundreds gathered for the dedication of the Thresher-Scorpion Memorial and Submarine Centennial Brick Memorial Walkway.

In 2009 a cement walkway was constructed allowing wheel chair accesses to all areas of the Memorial site.

To this day U.S. Submarine Veterans WWII National Memorial West is the site of annual public Memorial Day services. The service which incorporates the emotional "tolling the boats" typically hosts close to 500 guests and dignitaries.

Reflection Pond at Dedication Ceremony

As submarine veterans we owe a sense of gratitude and obligation to the legacy of those that came before us and sometimes need to remind ourselves of the purpose of USSVI.

As Abraham Lincoln once said "A nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure."

The U.S. Submarine Veterans WWII National Memorial West is most certainly hallowed ground. It is up to us and those that follow us, to keep it that way.

Coutresy to M. George Kuhn, Past President Los Angeles Chapter, Mark Maynard and Mary Ann Rupp for providing me the historical information and Photographs. All Rights Reserved Photos and Text Used with Permission.

Dedication Ceremony Near Torpedo

Dedication Speeches (Navy Band in Foreground)

The Los Angeles Pasadena Base of the USSVI is the officially recognized custodian of the National Submarine Memorial, West.


National WWII Memorial - HISTORY

National WWII Memorial - WWII Veterans Registry

I am posting this information at the request of Mr. James L. Swartwood, Kentucky AARP, Program Specialist - Veterans History. It is VERY worthwhile effort and I hope you take a minute to read this and then go to the National WWII Memorial website to register yourself (if you are a WWII vet), family member, etc. Let us not forget!

"I am sure you and many of your members are well aware of the WWII Memorial in DC. However I am finding many WWII veterans, families and friends are not aware of the online WWII Memorial Registry of Remembrances. Those that were killed in WWII are automatically registered through the National Archives and Records Administration and/or the ABMC Tablets of the Missing.

"However an entry can be made on their behalf via family, friends or organizations regarding their military involvement before dying for their country. Those that served in WWII can also be registered online as one would do at the WWII Monument.

"Will you please reference the National WWII Memorial website on your website and give a brief explanation so veterans, families, friends and organizations might honor those who served or supported the WWII efforts?

"If this generation does not step forward, information about the veterans will be very hard to obtain later. An example is a father who died in an airplane accident off of Guam and the only thing registered is the ABMC record of his gravesite in Hawaii. His daughter can now define that he was killed in an aircraft accident and the unit he served with, etc., which is a fitting closure for the ultimate sacrifice. My brother served in the South Pacific and my nephew has now registered his father's information, including the ship he served aboard and some information he had passed to him."


Watch the video: Ukázka bitvy z 2. světové války (November 2021).