Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Greatest Generation

The National World War II Memorial
with the Lincoln Memorial in the background,
17th Street between Constitution and Independence Avenues NW

Had it not been for a little Hollywood blockbuster called Saving Private Ryan and an anything-but-ordinary actor named Tom Hanks, there still might not be a memorial on the National Mall to the men and women who fought in World War II. Hanks, along with director Steven Spielberg, started the public, grassroots campaign to build a memorial they said was "long overdue."

The National World War II Memorial was authorized by President Bill Clinton and the bulk of the funding came from private donations and pledges that totaled more than $181 million. The federal government contributed a mere $16 million. Construction began in September 2001 and the memorial opened to the public in April 2004. It is situated on the National Mall between the Lincoln Memorial to the west and the Washington Monument to the east.

On any given day, you can see veterans of the greatest generation--those men and women who fought in Europe and the Pacific and who kept the war industry humming on the homefront--totter around this magnificient memorial. They are in their 80s and 90s now. Few are in excellent health, but all are proud to have served their nation and to have aided in truly and justly freeing the world from despotism and tyranny.


Gunfighter said...

The last time my father-in-law was in town (he is so sick he'll probably never get back here), I took him to the monument.

He is a Navy veteran and served in many of the major battles of the war in the Pcific. As a 16 year old sailor, he was at the Marine landing on Tarawa, and his ship was twice subjected to Kamikaze attacks.

After viewing the monument in silence, all he said was: "It's about time"

Janet M Kincaid said...

GF: AMEN! My grandfather, who passed away last year, never got to see this memorial, but I have no doubt his sentiment would have been the same.