Have you ever heard of the phrase better late than never? Anyone who hasn’t it usually refers to something that should have been done at an earlier occasion but finally when it does, at least this is better than for it staying unresolved. I am sure many people would apply this phrase when thinking back over a decade ago when a certain event happened that should have occurred many decades before.
This was the date that in Washington, D.C., the National World War II Memorial opens its’ doors to visitors numbering in the thousands; this was an overdue recognition that provided for the 16 million men and women who served for the United States during the war. The memorial is on 7.4 acres located on the previous site of the Rainbow Pool in the National Mall; this lies between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. Arlington Cemetery is a tad across the Potomac River to the west while the Capitol dome can be viewed to the east.
The bronze and granite monument contains fountains between arched representing hostilities in the Far East and Europe. The arches are edged by pillars of semicircles which symbolize one each for the District of Columbia, states and territories. There is a wall that is curved beyond the pool that contains 4,000 gold stars; each star represents 100 Americans who died in the war. There is an Announcement Stone that states that this memorial recognizes those “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.”
Even though $16 million was donated to the memorial fund by the federal government, private donations totaled $164 million that was needed to complete its’ construction. The biggest vocal supporters for the memorial was actor Tom Hanks and the previous Kansas Senator Bob Dole; the former senator became severely hurt during the war. Sadly, of the 16 million Americans who served during the war, only a fraction of them would ever view it. According to government records, living at the time were four million World War II veterans and over 1,100 of them passed away every day.
Roger Durbin of Berkey, Ohio was the inspiration for the memorial; he ended up serving under General George S. Patton. While attending near Toledo a fish fry in February 1987, he questioned U.S. Republican Marcy Kaptur why on the Mall there was no memorial to recognize veterans of World War II. Being a Democrat from Ohio, Kaptur would eventually introduce legislation to construct one; this began a process that would tumble along through artistic and legal entanglements as well as legislative hurdles lasting 17 years.
U.S. President George Bush would formally dedicate the monument on May 29th, 2004. Within 2005, the monument received 4.4 million visitors as it was open 24 hours a day and seven days a week.