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Washington DC: United States National World War II Memorial
Image by wallyg
The United States National World War II Memorial, located on the National Mall on the former site of the Rainbow Pool at the eastern end of the Reflecting Pool, between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, is a National Memorial dedicated to Americans who served in the armed forces and as civilians during World War II. Principally designed by Frierich St. Florain, the former dean of the Rhode Island School of Design and the winner of a 400-submission competition in 1997, the memorial opened to the public on April 29, 2004, and was dedicated by President George W. Bush on May 29, 2004, two days before Memorial Day.
The memorial unfolds in a 7.4-acre plaza, sunk 6-feet below grade and surrounded by fifty-six stone pillars, each 17-feet tall, arranged in a semicircle. Each pillar is inscribed with the name of one of the American States or Territories during the War and draped, front and back, with alternating cast-bronze wreaths of wheat sheaves and oak. The pillars are "tied together" with bronze rope, symbolizing national unity. Two 43-foot stone arched pavilions bookend the memorial, representing the Atlantic on the north, and the Pacific on the south. Inside each, four eagles atop four columns hold laurel victory wreaths suspended from ribbons in their beaks. In the center of the plaza is a 246-feet, 9-inches by 147-feet, 8-inches pool with 100 water jets, punctuated et each end with a splashing geyser. The curved wall on the western end of the memorial, the Freedom Wall, is lined with 23 bronze panels, each featuring 11 rows of 16 handmade gold stars. Each star represents about 100 of the 405,973 members of the United States Armed Forces killed in the war.
[for the full Inauguration story, visit my blog]
Emerging into the lower levels of Union Station’s Metro stop, the only way to go was outside â€“ all the direct accesses into the main part of the station were closed off. So I went outside and hooked left to head up to the main entrance. A large crowd was amassed here full of would-be train riders â€“ some destined for Amtrak, some for MARC, some for VRE, and others trying to get to Metro. Police officers walked the banisters calling out information.
It was a bit aggravating as people tried to figure out where which groups were supposed to go. It ultimately ended up that Amtrak went one way and MARC / VRE went another way. Metro folks were out of luck: this station was exit-only and was closed to people trying to get on. It was a bit crazy at first just trying to figure out which mass of people I was supposed to be standing in… and we were all trying to figure that out together. Once we started getting into the right groups, one of the officers led the MARC group in a chant: "MARC! MARC! MARC!" to get other would-be riders to take heed.
There was one slip-up where a guy carrying large signs reading â€œMARCâ€ with an upward-pointing arrow went walking away from the crowdâ€¦ and like chasing after the Pied Piper, I and many other would-be MARC riders followed. It was when he kept walking away from the train station and stopped to chat with some police officers when I inquired whether we were supposed to be following the sign, or if he was just moving it about. It was the latterâ€¦ I really didnâ€™t quite expect that answer, but I was glad I asked.
This event was a blessing in disguise. Seconds later, they started letting some people into the station (the officers were metering entering traffic so it didnâ€™t get too crowded). With me approaching at a different angle, a police car and porta-potty formed a pick and I had almost a clear shot into the now-moving crowd. In all I waited perhaps 10 minutes to get inside, and then another 10 minutes or so inside. It wasnâ€™t bad â€“ I generally felt like I was moving most of that time. With much of the day gone by, the crowd itself was still in good spirits, and almost every person thanked & praised the police staff & volunteers.
Rightly so. Considering the pressure of maintaining security, controlling crowds, and offering directions â€“ all at the same time â€“ Iâ€™d say that they really did do a stellar job (except for that hiccup when I first arrived that morning). The force couldâ€™ve used some more officers and volunteers to provide & reiterate information, as it was often difficult to hear instructions over the wail of the crowd. Additionally, I found that the volunteers tended to be a bit lacking in informationâ€¦ I suspect they were trained moreso in maintaining their specific locations and duties than offering directions, and Iâ€™m sure many came from areas far beyond DC.
It would have also been immensely useful had there been better maps available. WMATA, which runs the Metro services, has an excellent base map, but all they did with it was plot a couple concentric circles to show how far things were â€“ 1 mile, 2 miles, 3 miles. All the other maps coming from the Inauguration Committee or the District were absolutely useless, often so cluttered with information in a jack-of-all-trades map that they became inundated with too much information. Some of the news stations prepared their own maps, but the informal Google Maps mashups just didnâ€™t cut it for the level of detail that was needed. I hope that next time the District and committees make use of WMATAâ€™s map as a base and then tailor-make several maps geared toward specific audiences.
The lines moved more quickly thanks to the fact that the officers & volunteers were just putting people on trains… any trains… You got separated out by Amtrak, VRE, MARC Penn Line, and then MARC Brunswick / Camden Lines. After that, you just boarded whatever train was waiting… didn’t matter what train your ticket was for, so long as you were going in the right direction.
Street Drummer – Washington DC
Image by peterlfrench
Using nothing more than 5 gallon buckets, trash cans, and traffic cones this man tears it up on a corner in DC – plus you gotta love the shopping cart cymbol