Jim, Dan and I headed over to the Mall to see the WWII Memorial. None of us had been to see the new monument, and it was a cool, pretty day in DC, so it seemed like the thing to do with our afternoon.
Perhaps on a warmer day, the effect would have softened somewhat, but on Saturday the fountains seemed to spew ice-water. All around people milled about aimlessly in the emptiness of the space around the pool at the center of the Memorial.
The unifority of the columns surrounding the space and the laurel wreaths emphasized a militarism that was reinforced by some of the texts chosen to be carved in a few places in the Memorial -- one by General Marshall was striking in its tone -- it seems unfair to a man whose vision and leadership in the post-war period was credited with a swift and generous rebuilding effort in Europe that his contribution to the Memorial should be this quotation:
WE ARE DETERMINED THAT BEFORE THE SUN SETS ON THIS TERRIBLE STRUGGLE OUR FLAG WILL BE RECOGNIZED THROUGHOUT THE WORLD AS A SYMBOL OF FREEDOM ON THE ONE HAND AND OF OVERWHELMING FORCE ON THE OTHER.
-- General George C. Marshall
The absence of any representations of human forms is striking -- the place is lifeless.
Today, Germany and Japan are our friends. Where in this Memorial is there any nod to the rest of the world, or to our hopes for the future? The message seems to be "WWII - We kicked ass. Don't Tread on Me, or I'll kick yours too."
There is a pool and a wall with 4,000 gold stars, each one represents 100 Americans who lost their lives in the war.
Perhaps in order to make the Memorial accessible to the WWII generation, the Memorial is set alongside a roadway. Unfortunately, this just contributes to the sense that the Memorial has been jammed into an increasingly crowded space on the Mall. Unlike the Vietnam Memorial, which is so powerfully moving, the overall effect of the WWII Memorial is one of disappointment with the physical monument that we have created.
Our WWII veterans deserve a better Memorial than this.