- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 23, 2004

U.S. Park Police said security plans for the dedication of the National World War II Memorial will include safety precautions for former U.S. presidents and plenty of water and first aid for the aging veterans.

“The heat drains the energy,” said acting Chief Dwight Pettiford of the U.S. Park Police. “There will be plenty of water.”

About 117,000 tickets have been issued for the main dedication ceremony Saturday. Officials said former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton are expected to attend.

Fewer than 4 million of the roughly 16 million World War II military veterans are still alive. About 400,000 died during the war, which ended Sept. 2, 1945. And about 1,100 of them die every day, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The memorial opened unofficially April 29 so as many people as possible, including the aging veterans, could see it.

U.S. Park Police spokesman Sgt. Scott Fear said the agency will receive help from more than 30 federal, state and local law-enforcement groups.

Visitors can expect security measures similar to those seen at last year’s Fourth of July ceremonies on the Mall.

On July 4, there were about 19 security checkpoints at which visitors’ bags were searched. Some areas will be enclosed by fences and police are expected to use metal-detecting devices and bomb-sniffing dogs.

“People will have to go through the checkpoints,” Chief Pettiford said.

The National Park Service expects about 200,000 visitors on each day of the three-day holiday weekend. Numerous streets will be closed in the Mall area and Metro schedules will be altered.

Buses will transport veterans close to the memorial, which is on the Mall on the east end of the Reflecting Pool between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.

The aisles between the bleachers at the memorial are being widened and ramps are being installed to accommodate veterans in wheelchairs.

The memorial, which sits about 6 feet below street level, cost about $175 million, includes a waterfall and is surrounded by 56 pillars that represent wartime U.S. states, territories and the District.

Park Police and the Metropolitan Police Department will cancel vacations and leaves to have as many officers as possible available for duty.

“It’s going to be a very busy season,” said D.C. police spokesman Kenny Bryson.

Chief Pettiford and Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey said the security planning is precautionary and there have been no specific threats.

Still, Chief Ramsey said, the department has plenty of concerns about managing the expected crowd and protecting the dignitaries.

“This is going to be a great day,” Chief Pettiford said. “Any time we have major events, we’re going to have to take special precautions.”

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