- The Washington Times - Monday, November 11, 2002

World War II veterans are about a year and a half away from seeing the completion of a memorial on the National Mall to their war.
The American Battle Monuments Commission announced yesterday that the memorial will be dedicated Saturday, May 29, 2004.
"We really want to create what we call World War II week in Washington, D.C.," said Mike Conley, spokesman for the commission. "This could be one of the last great gatherings of World War II veterans in this country."
The commission says that of the 16 million Americans who served in uniform in World War II, fewer than 4 million are expected to be alive when the memorial is dedicated. It said veterans are dying at a rate of 1,100 a day.
The memorial is not without controversy. A lengthy court battle was waged about its location and design. Opponents maintained that the memorial's large-scale design and location would spoil the character of the Mall and interfere with grand vistas long enjoyed by visitors.
The 7.4-acre site is between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. The white stone memorial will feature 56 17-foot-high pillars, two four-story arches and a sunken plaza with a pool. On the floor of the arches will be the World War II Victory Medal surrounded by the words "Victory on Land, Victory at Sea, Victory in the Air." A registry will contain the names of veterans and others who helped in the war effort.
Construction began in September 2001 and is expected to end in March 2004. Mr. Conley said the commission chose the May date for the dedication because of the Memorial Day weekend and the prospect of nicer weather than in March.
The commission hopes to organize several days of events honoring World War II veterans surrounding the dedication date, including a Smithsonian exhibition on the Mall and a memorial service at the Washington National Cathedral.
The dedication may include President Bush, other government dignitaries and actor Tom Hanks, who was a national spokesman for the project's fund-raising campaign, Mr. Conley said.
Veterans are planning reunions in conjunction with the dedication, Mr. Conley said, and the commission wants to give them enough notice to make travel arrangements.
The project costs are estimated at $170 million. Nearly $189 million has been raised through pledges and cash contributions. Mr. Conley said any extra money will go toward programs related to the memorial.

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