- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 20, 2000

Those who have made the walk from the Washington to the Lincoln memorials know that there comes a point when the feet begin to tire and the landscape abruptly changes. That place is just beyond 17th Street, the location of choice for the National World War II Memorial. The proposed architecture for that design, which will be up for approval in today's meeting of the federal Commission of the Fine Arts, provides the appropriate unifier of the Mall's most prominent monuments. More importantly, it memorializes the 16 million Americans in uniform who served during World War II.
"The memorial reflects a celebration," design architect Friedrich St. Florian said as he gestured toward the miniature fountains and waterfalls in a room filled with models of the future monument. And well it should. Until now, there has been no national monument to commemorate the lives of all of those who served during the war and the victory of the United States and its Allies. If the arts commission approves the architectural design after today's meeting, the design must then be approved by the National Capitol Planning Commission before the planned groundbreaking in November. The memorial would then take about two years to build.
The proposed monument is a refreshing combination of water and light, pillars and arches. As visitors look toward the horizon from the Lincoln or Washington monuments, the war memorial provides a frame for the memorial on the other end of the Mall. The wreathed pillars in the two semicircles surrounding the Rainbow Pool allow visitors to walk in and out of the memorial from any angle. With grassy steps and raised sitting platforms, it provides an oasis for Mall sojourners to rest and remember.
A Field of Gold Stars, with 4,000 raised stars extending from a stone wall 75 feet in length, pays tribute to the 400,000 U.S. servicemen who gave their lives in the war. A 47-foot-high Memorial Arch and fountain add solemn grandeur to the memorial. The natural lighting through vertical splits in the pillars and piers during the day and the night lighting illuminating the arches and reliefs in the evening touch the structures with magic.
The American Battle Monuments Commission could not have picked a better year and place to erect the national monument. Here, finally, in the middle of our nation's capital, is a place for America's World War II heroes to feel at home and for their families and countrymen to pay homage to their service. Hopefully the commission examining the plans will be touched by the same understanding of the memorial's tribute to American veterans. Many of them will not be around much longer to appreciate this hard-earned honor.

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