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Image of the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. after Dark
World War II Memorial at Night. Carol Highsmith, 2006

The National World War II Memorial at Ten Years Old

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World War II Memorial, Washington, D.C. Carol Highsmith, 2006
World War II Memorial, Washington, D.C. Carol Highsmith, 2006

It’s hard to believe that the National World War II Memorial was dedicated nearly ten years ago (May 29, 2004 to be precise).  This memorial honors those members of the United States military who fought, those who died, and those who supported the war effort from home.

The Veterans History Project took the opportunity to hold a number of events and to interview thousands of men and women during the dedication weekend. You and your students can read or listen to many of these stories on the Veterans History Project website. Explore the themes or World War II Stories for examples.

Teaching ideas

Show students an image of the National World War II Memorial. Allow time for them to explore the imagery used in the memorial and note their observations, reflections, and questions on the Library’s primary source analysis tool.

Show students pictures of other memorials honoring soldiers for their service (such as the Vietnam Memorial, the Korean War Memorial or World War memorials in your area).

  • How do they compare to the National World War II memorial?
  • In what ways do the memorials reflect how the designers felt about the war, the people that fought in the war, and how the people of the United States felt about the war?
  • What imagery would they use if they were asked to design a memorial for veterans of World War II? For a more recent conflict?

Students can read or listen to one or more Veterans History Projects stories. How do the students think the soldiers feel about their experiences in World War II? Compare those the stories with those of veterans of other wars.

Let us know in the comments how students grapple with the question of what memorials represent and why we value them.


Comments (2)

  1. At my last visit to the American History Museum, I was dismayed to see how small a space was devoted to the First World War. Do you know of any plans to expand that exhibit ?

    I also see that there is a drive to establish a WWI Memorial. Is the Library of Congress involved in publicizing this effort, as it publicizes the World War II Memorial ?


    • Thank you for the comment. The American History Museum is operated by the Smithsonian. You will need to contact them to ask about that exhibit. The foundation for the World War I memorial is a private foundation and the Library of Congress would not have a role in publicizing this effort.

      You may be interested in looking at the material from the Veterans History Project especially the interviews with veterans from World War I.

      Best wishes.

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