An Overview of the War
On December 7, 1941, the United States of America entered the Second World War. This war, lasting nearly six long years, involved the huge majority of the world’s nations at that time.
It is generally agreed that the war began with the German invasion of Poland and the declarations of war on France and the United Kingdom that followed. Now Japan had recently been intoxicated by its recent conquests in China and was leaning more and more toward colonialist tendencies. When war broke out, Japan saw an opportunity to expand its influence in the east. The island nation’s leaders supposed that it could take for itself a huge portion of south-east Asia and its resources-after all, the Allies were weak and could not afford to retake back the lost territory. Boy were they wrong. The United States and the Allies fought back with great ferocity. What followed was one of the bloodiest struggles in human history, with an estimated 50 – 56 million deaths within five years. The US Armed Forces alone ended the conflict with nearly a million casualties and 400,000 service members dead. These dead made the ultimate sacrifice in service of the nation and of peace.
Situated in between the Lincoln and Washington Monument, the National World War Two Memorial commemorates our soldiers’ selfless sacrifices during the war. The structure was designed by award-winning Austrian architect Friedrich St. Florian and features some of the richest symbolism in modern architecture.
Here are a few symbols featured in this architectural masterpiece:
Four-thousand Gold Stars
Of the nearly 12 million servicemen who went out to fight during the war, more than four hundred thousand died in service of the nation. These 4,048 gold stars on the Freedom Wall immortalize those soldiers who fought and died for peace and freedom for all. These gold stars are also cast in seven shapes, each slightly different to represent the diversity of soldiers-men and women, black and white in the US military.
The 56 pillars that surround the plaza celebrate the unity of the nation during the years of war. Each pillar represents a state with bronze ropes that connect each pillar, symbolizing the solidarity and bond that held the nation together as one people.
Control of the seaward trade routes was integral to an allied victory, and so much importance was placed in holding key sea regions. The two towering arches in the plaza represent the two main sea theaters during the war, the Atlantic and Pacific theaters of war.
Wreathes in the Memorial Arches
Not all of the memorial is dedicated to those who lost their lives. Wreathes that hang in the Memorial Arches represent the valiant soldiers who came home victorious after the war.
This memorial is a reminder to future generations of the steep price veterans of the Second World War paid in service of the nation. Within the symbolism in this National WW2 Memorial, we can find an appreciation for the sacrifices our forefathers made in the pursuit of peace.