- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 15, 2003

The Washington DC Convention & Tourism Corp.is spearheading efforts to raise $4 million for a summer-long promotion of the National World War II Memorial next year. The District group is searching for sponsors to donate cash and services and for organizations to participate in World War II-oriented events to help pull off the Memorial Day-to-Labor Day program called “America Celebrates the Greatest Generation.”

“This will be a true regional effort from Quantico to Annapolis,” said William A. Hanbury, president and chief executive of the convention and tourism bureau.

The memorial, under construction on the Mall, will be dedicated during the Memorial Day weekend. Activities will include a memorial service and dedication ceremony May 29 and a four-day event produced by the Smithsonian Institution beginning May 27. The region-wide effort will begin after the weekend.

“Most American families have a link to World War II,” said Mr. Hanbury, whose father flew in 33 combat missions during the war. “This is an important monument in American history.”

The potential is enormous for the District. Washington usually has about 2.5 million visitors during the summer. Next year, the city can expect another million because of the WWII memorial, Mr. Hanbury said.

“This helps promote the memorial and it helps the city in its tourism efforts,” said Barry Owenby, project executive of the World War II Memorial and director of procurement and contracting for the American Battle Monuments Commission.

The memorial will pay tribute to the 16 million persons who served in World War II, the more than 400,000 who died and the millions who supported the war from the home front, according to the American Battle Monuments Commission, an independent agency overseeing the memorial. Fewer than 4 million veterans are expected to be alive when the memorial is dedicated.

“There will be a huge amount of interest from the remaining veterans not just over Memorial Day but over the whole summer,” Mr. Owenby said.

Mr. Hanbury and his staff began working on the effort about four months ago and recently began calling on more than 100 groups to participate in WWII-oriented programs. They also are soliciting potential sponsors to help fund the marketing of “America Celebrates the Greatest Generation.”

The goal of next summer’s program is to educate audiences about the newest national memorial and its affiliated events and institutions. While the new WWII memorial is the main focus, the effort also will highlight other national memorials, museums and historic sites throughout the region.

Mr. Hanbury has targeted 60 U.S. companies for the six “presenting sponsor” slots. So far, USA Today is the first presenting sponsor to sign on officially. Mr. Hanbury hopes to have all sponsors by September.

The investment for a presenting sponsor is $500,000 in cash and $500,000 worth of advertising support.

In return, the sponsor will have its corporate logo on all advertising, collateral material and banners, among other items, and the opportunity for joint promotions. The sponsor will have VIP hospitality benefits that include tickets to receptions.

Despite the weak economy, North American businesses are expected to spend $10.52 billion on sponsorships this year —up 9.1 percent from the $9.65 billion spent in 2002, according to IEG Sponsorship Report, which tracks corporate sponsorships.

“More companies are looking at unique opportunities to stretch their limited advertising dollars,” Mr. Hanbury said.

Mr. Hanbury is trying to create an honorary committee made up of 40 “distinguished” Americans including WWII combat veterans and military, political figures, business leaders and celebrities.

The panel will help promote the events, as well as serve as a sounding board to make sure the events are done out of “respect and reverence,” he said.

The memorial has been a long time in the making. It was conceived in 1987 and approved by Congress in 1993.

The memorial has received $192 million in cash and pledges to cover the project costs such as site selection, design and construction. The remaining funds after the project costs are paid for will be held with the U.S. Treasury in a National WWII Memorial Trust Fund.

The memorial underwent a lengthy court battle over its location and design.

Opponents said the memorial’s size and location would ruin the character of the Mall and destroy its clean and sweeping vista.

The 7.4-acre site is between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. The white stone memorial will feature 56 17-foot-high granite pillars, two four-story arches and a sunken plaza with a pool.

Construction began in September 2001 and is expected to be complete in March. The memorial should be open in early April, Mr. Owenby said.

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