The World War II Memorial
The World War II Memorial honors the 16 million who served in the armed forces of the U.S., the more than 400,000 who died, and all who supported the war effort from home. Symbolic of the defining event of the 20th Century, the memorial is a monument to the spirit, sacrifice, and commitment of the American people. The Second World War is the only 20th Century event commemorated on the National Mall’s central axis.
President Clinton signed Public Law 103-32 on May 25, 1993, authorizing the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) to establish a World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., or its environs. It is the first national memorial dedicated to all who served during World War II and acknowledging the commitment and achievement of the entire nation. Above all, the memorial stands as an important symbol of American national unity, a timeless reminder of the moral strength and awesome power that can flow when a free people are at once united and bonded together in a common and just cause.
ABMC engaged the General Services Administration’s (GSA) Public Buildings Service to act as its agent to manage the memorial project. The design submitted by Friedrich St.Florian, an architect based in Providence, R.I., was selected as one of six semi-finalists in an open, national competition. Leo A Daly, an international architecture firm, assembled the winning team with St.Florian as the design architect. The team also included George E. Hartman of Hartman-Cox Architects, landscape architect Oehme van Sweden & Associates, sculptor Ray Kaskey, and stone carver and letterer Nick Benson. St.Florian’s memorial design concept was approved by the Commission of Fine Arts and the National Capital Planning Commission in the summer of 1998. The commissions approved the preliminary design in 1999, the final architectural design and several ancillary elements in 2000, granite selections in 2001, and sculpture and inscriptions in 2002 and 2003.
Construction began in September 2001. The memorial opened to the public on April 29, 2004, and was dedicated on Saturday, May 29, 2004. The memorial became part of the National Park System on Nov. 1, 2004, when it was transferred from the American Battle Monuments Commission to the National Park Service, which now operates and maintains the memorial.
E PLURIBUS UNUM – Origin and Meaning of the Motto Carried by the American Eagle
“E Pluribus Unum” was suggested by the committee Congress appointed on July 4, 1776 to design “a seal for the United States of America.”
A motto’s purpose is to express the theme of a seal’s imagery – especially that of the shield.
E Pluribus Unum describes an action: Many uniting into one. An accurate translation of the motto is “Out of many, one” – a phrase that elegantly captures the symbolism on the shield.
On August 20, 1776, this first committee submitted their design to Congress (including Ben Franklin’s idea for a reverse side).
Although their designs were not approved (and two subsequent committees would be appointed), their motto was selected by Charles Thomson six years later when he created the final Great Seal in 1782 and inscribed E PLURIBUS UNUM on the scroll carried in the beak of the American bald eagle who carries the “power of peace” in his right talon.
In his official explanation of the Great Seal, Thomson said this motto refers to the union between the states and federal government, as symbolized by the shield of thirteen stripes on the eagle’s breast.
National World War II Memorial, The Mall, Washington D.C., USA
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