- The Washington Times - Monday, February 2, 2004

More than 4,100 gold stars were mounted on a granite Freedom Wall yesterday, between the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial as part of a permanent memorial to more than 400,000 Americans who lost their lives during World War II.

The stars indicate that construction is nearing the end for the World War II Memorial, which will be dedicated in a four-day ceremony on Memorial Day weekend.

“I think it’s going to be one of the most rewarding monuments in the world,” said retired Marine Gen. P.X. Kelley, head of the American Battle Monuments Commission, and one of the project’s key supporters.

“My father died in World War II, so it has special meaning to me,” Gen. Kelley said.

Crews numbering 180 workers continued toiling yesterday as project organizers led a tour over piles of steel cables, snow, granite slabs and ice, and amid trucks, cranes and chore carts.

It has been a long time coming. Legislation for a memorial was introduced in Congress in 1987. After dozens of meetings and discussions among authorities, the site at Rainbow Pool, at the east end of the Reflecting Pool, was dedicated in 1995. The design of Friedrich St. Florian was chosen and Leo A. Daly Architecture, Planning and Engineering Co. prepared for construction.

“It’s been a very democratic process,” Chairman and President Leo A. Daly III, said yesterday. “It’s been seven long years, but it is worth it.”

The Leo A. Daly firm was founded by Mr. Daly’s grandfather in Omaha, Neb., in 1915. It directed construction of a World War II memorial there, completed in 1949. In the Washington metropolitan area, the firm has supervised reconstruction of the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, construction of the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center, the Italian Chancery, and Institute of Genomic Research in Rockville.

There were many problems. Historically, the area from the Washington Monument past the Lincoln Memorial was swampy from overruns by the Potomac River.

About 600 steel posts, called piles, were planted down 30 to 40 feet to bedrock. Each post can support 130 tons, said project executive William B. “Barry” Owenby.

“The piles would hold up if all this surrounding soil washed away,” Mr. Owenby said.

There are 17,000 square feet of wall space and tunnels underneath the 2.46-acre granite oval, which is mainly below the ground surface so the view is uninterrupted from the Lincoln Memorial down the Mall to the U.S. Capitol.

Most of the granite for foundations and walls came from South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina. But green granite came from Brazil to match the green grass surrounding the memorial.

Filling the Rainbow Pool with water and activating hidden lights and water fountains will be the final phase of the $100 million memorial. “The [water] jets haven’t worked since 1960,” Mr. Owenby said.

Most of 56 pillars, each engraved with the name of a state or U.S. territory, have been erected and 112 bronze wreaths are being hung on them. On the north side is an open tower, engraved “Atlantic,” for the battles in Europe. The south tower is engraved “Pacific,” signifying the war that began with Pearl Harbor against Japan.

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