I remember when they first built this Memorial, all the backlash in the news about how ugly and ostentatious it was. It seemed like a love it or hate it kind of thing, so I was expecting one of those two reactions. After seeing the memorial in person, I can kind of see both sides, but it was worth stopping by when we were on the mall.
The memorial is a bit of a hodgepodge, with a fountain area surrounded by an open courtyard, with walkways leading through stone archways on the outside and a reflecting pool at the back. It is very expansive, and takes a bit of time to walk around, depending on how much you want to see. Every piece has a reason for being there and a meaning to it, but without the pamphlet we got at the information kiosk, it wasn't all intuitive.
There were definite pros and cons to the WWII memorial. On a day with temps in the 90s, this area seemed to be the hottest place we were at all day. Not sure if that's just the openness of it, or the stonework absorbing the heat maybe, but it was pretty palpable. Another downside is the number of children splashing around in the fountain - with steps leading down to the water's edge, kids were tempted to jump in or at least dip their feet in, which seemed a bit disrespectful.
On the plus side, the memorial did make me think a little bit more about a war that happened long before I was born. Ironically, with all the big structures at the memorial, I thought the most poignant was the wall of gold stars, with each one representing 100 lives lost. There were a lot of veterans present when we were there, and generally they seemed impressed, sharing stories, etc. I figure that's more important than my opinion either way.
I never saw the National Mall before the WWII Memorial was built, so I can't comment on it disrupting the flow of the mall, or the other complaints from when it was built. I can maybe see how a more simple and elegant memorial might have been a good alternative, but there is still a lot to see, learn and reflect on at the existing memorial. Like I said, it wasn't the best or most moving memorial in DC, but it was worth a stop.
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