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Finally- The National WWII Memorial Opens

It had always bothered me that we had a national Vietnam memorial and not a national World War II memorial. Much the same way it bothers me that more research money is spent to find a cure for AIDS than cancer.

Vietnam and AIDS are both horrible things but it is hard to argue that the former was worse than WWII and the later is both easily preventable and kills far fewer people than cancer. Both of these examples seemed to lack a sense of proportion.

16 Million Americans served in WWII. Almost half a million died. They deserved a national memorial.

But there is another side to the story most people don't know and it stands as a testament to the power of both Democracy and a good idea. Back in 1986 a WWII Veteran was at a fish-fry with his local Congressman and he asked her why there was no WWII memorial. Though Roger Durbin did not live to see it, he started the gears in motion that 17 years later lead to yesterday's opening.

Along the way, Rep. Marcy Kaptur, who took the question, and many famous people helped push the idea along.

Bob Dole and Federal Express CEO Fred Smith lead the fund raising organization. Steven Spielberg, the director of`Saving Private Ryan' and Tom Hanks the movie's star loaned a public face to the fundraising and brought in millions of dollars.

Stephen Ambrose, who I was fortunate enough to have as a professor, helped with both the WWII memorial and the National D-Day Museum.

Less than a 25% of our WWII veterans are still alive and we lose over 1,000 a day. It was high time he honored their service, commitment and sacrifice.


Comments (7)

True, too true.I w... (Below threshold)

True, too true.

I wonder if part of the problem might have been that people thought the Iwo Jima memorial was our "WW2" memorial. That was my initial reaction to the call for this new one, until I learned more about it.

Actually Rep. Kaptur though... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Actually Rep. Kaptur thought it was a WWII memorial as well but it was only a monument to the guys at Iwo.

Back in the 60's Roger Durbin went to D.C. and found no memorial. After he told Kaptur, she had to do a fair amount of investigation to make sure there was not one. It almost fell thru the cracks. The size and scope of the project do help make up for lost time.

The funny thing to me is th... (Below threshold)

The funny thing to me is that it's not like we're forgetting WWII. Indeed, until we had the Vietnam memorial, I don't think there was a prominent memorial to any war we've ever fought, including the War for Independence. But Vietnam begat Korea which has begat WWII. I'm waiting for the Spanish American War memorial.

That's true, but it always ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

That's true, but it always struck me as a disconnect.

Discovery of no national me... (Below threshold)
Pete:

Discovery of no national memorial in spring 1960 coupled with visit to 8 story high star'shaped WWII memorial at Bastogne in 1967 actually is what gave my dad the drive for the memorial in D. C. A grateful, decimated Belgium completed the memorial five years after the war, yet strong, wealthy USA had none. He wanted this corrected.

Discovery of no national me... (Below threshold)
Pete:

Discovery of no national memorial in spring 1960 coupled with visit to 8 story high star'shaped WWII memorial at Bastogne in 1967 actually is what gave my dad the drive for the memorial in D. C. A grateful, decimated Belgium completed the memorial five years after the war, yet strong, wealthy USA had none. He wanted this corrected.

My brother was with the 79t... (Below threshold)
Eugene F. Young:

My brother was with the 79th and was killed Oct.3,1944 between Metz and Nancy. Was Roger in the 79th.




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