Explore the World War II Memorial & Other Washington DC Monuments

Located in a place of prominence at the eastern end of the Reflecting Pool on the National Mall, the National World War II Memorial is dedicated to the memory of the American soldiers and civilians who fought against tyranny in that global conflict.  Built on the site of the Rainbow Pool (between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington DC Monuments) the monument is a peaceful square centered on a tranquil fountain and ringed with 56 pillars and two small arches. Opened in 2004, it receives more than four million visitors a year. 

The World War II Memorial

Consisting of a large plaza with a recessed pool and fountain, the Monument features two triumphal arches, each 43-feet high and representing one theater of the war: the Pacific and the Atlantic. Semi-circles of pillars surround each arch, with each pillar representing one of the 48 states and 8 U.S. territories that fought in the war. Memorial walls leading into the plaza feature bas relief images of the war’s progression from the viewpoint of its soldiers: young men entering the service, preparing for war, engaged in combat, and then emotional homecomings. Each hemisphere has depictions unique to its theater of service, including island motifs on the Pacific side and air and sea assaults on the Atlantic side. Throughout the complex, close inspection will reveal not one but two inconspicuous “Kilroy was here” graffiti-like carvings, a tribute to the phrase and “doodle” used by soldiers during the conflict as a symbol of their protective presence across the global battlefronts. Washington DC monuments are rich with history! 

Exiting the memorial to the west, toward the Lincoln Memorial, visitors come face to face with the Freedom Wall. Here, under the watchful gaze of President Lincoln, a man who knew the meaning of national sacrifice, 4,048 gold stars on the wall twinkle in the morning sun; each represents 100 Americans who died in the war. A singular carved stone fronts the wall, its words a chilling reminder of the sacrifices made: “Here we mark the price of freedom.”

Places To Visit In Washington DC

The Memorial is free and open to the public 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Park rangers are on site from 9:30am to 10pm daily, providing interpretive tours and answering questions. The Mall is easily accessed by the Metro via the Smithsonian or Federal Triangle stations or by the Metrobus at stops 32, 34, or 36.