World War II Memorial

Audio Available:

OVERVIEW: About this audio-described brochure

Welcome to the audio-described version of the World War II Memorial's official print brochure. Through text and audio descriptions of photos, illustrations, and maps, this version interprets the two-sided color brochure that the World War II Memorial's visitors receive. The brochure explores the history of the park, some of its highlights, and information for planning your visit. This audio version lasts about 23 minutes which we have divided into 13 sections, as a way to improve the listening experience. Sections 3-5 cover the front of the brochure and include information regarding the Freedom Wall and famous images from World War II. Sections 6-11 cover the back of the brochure which consists of an interpretive map of the memorial. Other highlights include information about the World War II registry.

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OVERVIEW: World War II Memorial

The World War II Memorial, located in Washington, DC, is part of the National Park Service, within the Department of the Interior. The memorial is situated on the National Mall, between the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and the Washington Monument. This memorial was dedicated in 2004 and honors the sacrifices of the soldiers who gave their lives to defend the nation during the Second World War. Each year, thousands of visitors come to enjoy the unique experiences that only can be had at the National Mall, and the World War II Memorial provides a space for those visitors to learn about and reflect on the impact of World War II on both soldiers and civilians. We invite you to explore the memorial's sites. Take a walk around the beautiful fountains of the Rainbow Pool. Pay your respects at the Freedom Wall. Look for a certain state along the Arsenal of Democracy. For those seeking to learn more about the memorial during their visit, informative audio guides and tactile maps of the region also can be found at the visitor's center. To find out more about what resources might be available or to contact the park directly, visit the "Accessibility" and "More Information" sections at the end of this audio-described brochure.

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OVERVIEW: Front side of brochure

On the front of the brochure, a blue field with gold stars is background to a large collage of black-and-white historic photographs. These fade into a black text box on the right quarter of the page, featuring the brochure's lone color photo of a red and white flag with a single blue star.

The text explains the intent of the World War II Memorial, which is to honor the sacrifice of the 16 million Americans who served in uniform and the many millions who supported the war effort on the home front.

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COLLAGE: World War II Memorial

DESCRIBING: The front page of this brochure is a large collage of black and white photographs faded into each other to create a cohesive image over a background color photograph of gold stars on a blue field.

IMAGE 1 of 11: Star Wall

DESCRIPTION:

The background of this collage is a close up photograph of the World War II Memorial Freedom Wall, which contains 4,000 gold stars that represent more than 400,000 Americans who died during World War II. The five pointed gold stars are three dimensional and set against a flat granite background, which appears dark blue in the photo. The stars are placed closely and evenly spaced.

CAPTION: 4,000 gold stars on the Memorial’s Freedom Wall commemorate the more than 400,000 Americans who gave their lives.

CREDIT: Richard Latoff/American Battle Monuments Commission


IMAGE 2 of 11: Eisenhower

DESCRIPTION:

Located in the bottom right corner of the collage, this black and white photograph of General Dwight D. Eisenhower and the 101st Airborne Division was taken on June 5, 1945, on the day before the Allied invasion of Europe. Eisenhower, a middle aged white male, is addressing a male paratrooper  wearing a sign around his neck with the number 23. They are surrounded by dozens of other male paratroopers, some of whom have faces painted black with grease in order to stay camouflaged for the upcoming mission. They are all watching Eisenhower, who is positioned in profile in the photo and holding a closed hand up, mid sentence.

CREDIT: Library of Congress


IMAGE 3 of 11: Stars in Window

DESCRIPTION:

In the upper right hand corner of collage is a black and white photograph of a household window. The window's shutters are open, and placed against the window in front of a half lace curtain is a vertically hung banner with three dark stars on it. The rectangular banner features a white rectangle in the center with a vertical row of three stars. These banners were hung by households who had a family member serving in World War II. 

CREDIT: Library of Congress


IMAGE 4 of 11: Painting Plane Wing

DESCRIPTION:

Below the photo of the stars in the window is a cut-out black and white photograph of a young woman painting a large white star on an airplane wing. Concentrating, she holds a can of paint in one hand and outlines the star with a brush in the other. She has short, coiffed dark hair and is wearing a short sleeve white uniform that has pilot wing embroidery.

CREDIT: Library of Congress


IMAGE 5 of 11: D-Day invasion

DESCRIPTION:

To the left of the photo of a woman painting a plane wing, at the 12 o'clock position is a photograph taken from the viewpoint of inside looking out at the beach, from a personnel landing "Higgins" boat on the morning of D Day, June 6, 1945, when Allied troops invaded the Normandy area of France. The photo was taken on a section of the Normandy beach code named "OMAHA."

The top of the boat is open, the interior sides of the boat contain ropes and life preservers, and the front wall of the boat is down, creating a landing ramp into the water. In front of the landing ramp are dozens of American male soldiers wading through the water and toward the dry sand. The soldiers are wearing their uniforms, helmets, and large backpacks and have their backs to the camera. In the distance, there are X shaped obstacles along the beach called hedgehogs, placed there by the German military, who anticipated an invasion of France. The photograph was originally taken by war journalist Robert Capa, who accompanied the American soldiers during the invasion.

CREDIT: National Archives


IMAGE 6 of 11: Marines in the South Pacific

DESCRIPTION:

A large American flag attached to a pole flies over a group of broadly smiling male soldiers holding their round helmets and rifles aloft in celebration. Most stand and some sit, their light colored uniforms worn loose and scruffy and faded with use. They are posed for a group photograph and are smiling at the camera. The background is not visible in the photograph.


CREDIT: National Archives


IMAGE 7 of 11: Battleship

DESCRIPTION: 

A black battleship plows head on toward the camera, splashing a large wave of white water away from both sides of the bow.  Above the bow, the ship is decked with 6 large caliber guns, stacked in two tiers of three.  Further back on both sides of the ship, the edge is bristling with many smaller gun barrels pointing up in the air.  The center of the ship is stacked high with a tall triangular shaped tower and antennae equipment.  A formation of identical ships are lined up behind with ocean water spraying up around their bows.

CREDIT: National Archives


IMAGE 8 of 11: Memphis Belle

DESCRIPTION:

A partial right side view of the front body, or fuselage, right engine, and three blade propeller of the Memphis Belle, a B17 Flying Fortress bomber airplane. On the lower fuselage of the plane beneath a set of two windows is a long painted row of 25 oblong shaped bombs with tips down and fins pointed up.  Painted underneath and centered under the row of bombs is a shorter row of eight swastikas.  Also painted on the fuselage, further to the right toward the nose of the aircraft, is the side view of a woman's bare leg pointing downward and forward and wearing a high heeled shoe.

CREDIT: Air Force, Altus AFB, Okla


IMAGE 9 of 11: Lehighton Family

DESCRIPTION:

An older white woman in glasses and a dark flowered dress stands next to a middle aged white man in a rumpled open suit jacket and shirt. Behind them hang two rectangular cloth banners. One with five dark stars arranged in an X shape. The other with two white stars stacked above a dark star. Both people look toward the camera with slight closed mouth smiles. The woman's dark curly hair and highly arched eyebrows frame her square open face. The man has slight bags under his eyes and the left side of his closed mouth turned up slightly.

CREDIT: Corbis/Bettman Archive


IMAGE 10 of 11: 93rd Infantry

DESCRIPTION:

A partial front view of a formation of African American men in Army full dress uniform, wearing helmets and carrying shouldered rifles. They are a segregated "colored" army unit of the 93rd Infantry Division.  Their skin tones range widely from dark to light. The soldiers are in strait columns and rows, with a soldier at the right front standing tall, proudly, and looking straight ahead. Most men in the formation are looking forward unsmiling, with jackets, shirts, and ties neatly in place and the sun shining on their faces. A few soldiers, inside the formation, are looking slightly downward, toward their feet.

CREDIT: Hulton/Getty Archives


IMAGE 11 of 11: John W. Brown Ship

DESCRIPTION:

The bow of a towering ship in between scaffolds of dry dock. A semicircle of celebratory bunting billows on the tip of the bow and line the ship's rail. Two anchors are pulled high against the ship and the ship's name painted high up on the bow is John W. Brown.

CREDIT: Project Liberty Ship

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IMAGE AND TEXT: Here we mark the price of freedom

DESCRIBING: A small, cut-out photograph. 

DESCRIPTION:

A cut out photograph of a Blue Star Banner. The rectangular banner of red fabric hangs vertically. A smaller white rectangle of fabric is centered on the red background and features a blue five pointed star sewn on top. Blue star banners like this were displayed in the windows of households across the United States. They indicated that the household had a family member who was serving in World War II. In the case of this image, a single blue star would indicate that the family had one of its members serving in the military.

CREDIT: NPS

RELATED TEXT: The United States entered the Second World War in 1941 not to conquer, but to liberate a world fast falling to forces of tyranny. The World War II Memorial honors the 16 million who served in uniform, of whom over 400,000 gave their lives. It also honors the many millions who supported the war effort on the home front and celebrates the American spirit, national unity, and victory. It recognizes the price paid by families. The blue star signifying a son or daughter in service (flag above) was proudly displayed in windows nationwide. It was all too often replaced by a gold star signifying another casualty of war. The war that changed the world also changed life at home. After 1945, education expanded through the G.I. Bill. Tech­nology surged as industries retooled for peace. Women’s rights and civil rights made new strides toward that great goal, liberty and justice for all.

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OVERVIEW: Back side of brochure

The second side of the brochure gives an overview of the World War II Memorial through text, photos, and art work. 

A narrow black bar across the top gives a general timeline of the war. Below that, the top third of the page includes text on the left about "The Greatest Generation" and what the memorial represents, and on the right includes three photographs in-line horizontally, and a small image of a gold colored World War II Victory Medal. From left to right the first photograph shows a quote by President Harry Truman inscribed on the memorial. In the center is a black and white photo of soldiers celebrating victory. And on the right is a photograph of a seated General MacArthur signing documents ending the war.

 A large water-color painting with small blocks of descriptive text and images surrounding it spans the remainder of the page horizontally. The painting shows a landscape view of the World War Two Memorial looking down the Reflecting Pool to the Lincoln Memorial. On the left side are descriptions of two major parts of the Memorial. One for the "Arsenal of Democracy" describing the green metal wreaths hung on each column in the memorial, with a color photo of one of the wreaths. The second,  titled "A Nation at War", describes the metal bas relief sculpture panels that line the entrances, and a color photo of a panel. Underneath the painting and along the bottom of the page are text about Building the Memorial, and Ideals of Democracy. On the right side of the painting are sections for information on the World War II Registry, About Your Visit, and where to find More Information. At the top of the painting are small captions briefly describing the highlights of the Memorial.

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TIMELINE: World War II

Written in white letters on a narrow black band, horizontally across the top of the entire page, are dates and brief descriptions of important World War II events. Beginning from the left:

December 7, 1941,  Japan attacks Pearl Harbor 

December 11, 1941, Germany declares war on U.S.

June 4-7, 1942, Battle of Midway

June 6, 1944, D-Day 

May 7, 1945, Germany surrenders 

August 6 & 9, 1945, U.S. drops atomic bombs on Japan 

August 14, 1945, Japan surrenders

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IMAGES, QUOTE, TEXT: The greatest generation

IMAGE 1 of 2:  People celebrating peace

DESCRIBING:  A small horizontal photograph in black and white. 

DESCRIPTION: This small black and white photograph, taken from above, is filled to its borders with the smiling faces of a crowd of men and women in Army uniforms. A male soldier, with an exuberant smile in the center of the group is staring directly at the camera, while several soldiers around him are holding up large front page newspapers with the single word headline: "PEACE"

CAPTION:  Victory in Europe Day, May 8, 1945 

CREDIT:  National Archives

IMAGE 2 of 2:  MacArthur on the Missouri

DESCRIBING:  A small, horizontal photograph in black and white.

DESCRIPTION:  An eye level, black and white photograph taken on the deck of the Battleship USS Missouri.  Centered in the foreground, dressed in khaki uniform, General Douglas MacArthur sits at a dark wooden table placed on the deck, facing to the right.  Surrounding the table, and visible to the left and in the background, is a large formation of officers and soldiers in khaki uniforms, standing at attention. An officer standing in the left foreground, behind MacArthur, has a camera hanging around his neck.  Large formal looking documents sit on the table, and MacArthur is holding a pen and writing on one of the documents. An empty wooden chair sits across the table and faces him.

CAPTION: Aboard USS Missouri, Gen. Douglas A. MacArthur, Commander of the Allied Powers in the Pacific, sign documents ending the war on September 2, 1945.

CREDIT: National Archives

QUOTE: "Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices." –President Harry S Truman

RELATED TEXT: The memorial celebrates a generation of Americans who emerged from the Depression to fight and win the most devastating war in world history. Americans and their allies triumphed over tyranny. An unprecedented unity at home saw the nation become the world’s breadbasket and industrial arsenal. In a spirit of sacrifice, Americans rationed at home and channeled the nation’s might to help restore freedom to millions. The World War II Memorial reminds future generations that we must sometimes sacrifice for causes greater than ourselves. This war that changed the world was “fought across six of the world’s seven continents and all of its oceans,” British historian John Keegan wrote. “It killed 50 million human beings, left hundreds of millions of others wounded in mind and body . . .” and devastated great parts of the world. After the war, through the innovative Marshall Plan, the United States helped both its allies and former foes rebuild. America continued to play a strong leadership role in world arenas as peacetime life returned.

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IMAGES AND TEXT: Memorial pavilion

IMAGE 1 of 4: Medal

DESCRIBING: A small, cut-out photograph. 

DESCRIPTION:

A color cut-out photo of a World War II Victory Medal. A bright gold colored disc hangs from a vertical striped ribbon, shaped like an upside down house with multi-colored vertical stripes. Down the middle of the ribbon is a wide red stripe. Moving outward from the red stripe, like a reflection from both sides, are thin white stripes, then equal width, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple stripes respectively. The golden medal has a smooth surface, with an embossed  female figure, full length, in a flowing gown with a piece of a broken sword in each hand of her slightly outspread arms. Her head is turned and looking to her right and slightly downward. The figure's right knee is raised, and her right foot is resting on a helmet. The sun is rising behind her raised right foot, and sun rays are emanating upward. Below her hands and knee high, are the words World War II across the medal, in uppercase letters, with the woman standing between the words World and War.

CREDIT: ABMC

RELATED TEXT: All those who served received the World War II Victory Medal that also adorns the pavilion floors.


IMAGE 2 of 4: 

Sculpture

DESCRIBING: A small, horizontal photograph. 

DESCRIPTION:

A color photograph of a metal relief sculpture panel showing a family of five interrupting their turkey dinner to listen to a large radio. The radio stands on the right side on 4 feet with a shaded lamp and telephone resting on top. An elderly couple listen close by. The woman in a dress with her hair pulled back in a bun sits next to the radio. She is attentive, with her hand under her chin. Behind her, an elderly man in a vest leans an elbow onto the radio and rests the other hand on her shoulder. His face seems serious and concerned as he gazes out of the panel. A young girl kneeling, leans across the right of the radio and holds her hand on a dial with an ear cocked toward the speakers.

On the left side of the room a dining table with an untouched roasted turkey on top sits under a window with curtains pinned to the side. A very young boy crouches on a wooden chair at the table, looking toward the radio, the hand of an unseen adult on his shoulder. Across the table to the right, a middle-aged man seated in a chair turns his torso toward the radio, propping an arm on the back of his chair, his face serious.


CREDIT: R.J. Kaskey

RELATED TEXT: A Nation at War on each side of the memorial’s ceremonial entrance on 17th Street, 12 bas-relief sculptures recall scenes of America at war. In this scene a family gathers around its radio to hear President Franklin D. Roosevelt ask Congress for a declaration of war after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in the Hawaiian Islands.


IMAGE 3 of 4: Wreath

DESCRIBING: A small, cut-out photograph. 

DESCRIPTION:

A color cut-out photo of the green metal circular wreaths that hang on the columns of the memorial. The wreaths are wrapped in relief carvings of overlapping lobed oak leaves, bound at the top with a band.

RELATED TEXT: Arsenal of Democracy Wreaths of oak and wheat on each of the memorial’s pillars symbolize the nation’s industrial and agricultural strength, both of which were essential to the success of the global war effort.


IMAGE 4 of 4: Memorial pavilion 

DESCRIBING: A large horizontal, illustration. 

DESCRIPTION:

A water-color painting of the World War II Memorial area, looking west toward the distant Lincoln Memorial. 

In the foreground of the painting, two stone walkway entrances descend into the main plaza, on either side of three large rectangular lawn terraces. Along the outer edges of both walkways, a stone wall holds small rectangular sculptural relief panels recalling scenes of America at war. Several figures, often in pairs, are seen walking the grounds and interacting with the landscape. 

In the center of the painting, the memorial's main oval-shaped plaza centers around a large pool of water, called the Rainbow Pool, with one fountain on each side.  A low horizontal panel, glowing golden on the far side of the pool, on the west side of the memorial, contains a large field of just over 4,000 gold stars, each one representing 100 Americans who died in the war. Small waterfalls cascade on either side of the stars.

Surrounding the gold stars and main pool on the north and south sides of the plaza, 56 rectangular stone columns with long rectangular openings in their centers represent the 48 states of the union during the war and the eight territories, including Alaska, Hawaii and the Philippines. The pillars branch out from the gold stars in order of state ratification of the Constitution, and admittance as a state or acquisition as a possession. The hollow center represents the individual loss of life in each state or territory in the war. Each column holds a green metal wreath of oak leaves and one of wheat. 

On the right or north sideof the plaza is the Atlantic pavilion, and on the left or south side of the plaza is the Pacific pavilion. The large stone pavilions that stand above the rest of the memorial and each has rounded open archways on four sides.

Behind the memorial, in the background of the painting is a full-leafed tree lined reflecting pool leading from the World War II Memorial to the Lincoln Memorial. The Lincoln Memorial appears just as it is depicted on the back of a copper American penny. The soft reflection of the Lincoln Memorial can be seen spanning the entirety of the reflecting pool. The sky above fades from dark blues surrounding the Lincoln Memorial, to soft light pinks and whites.

CREDIT: Joe McKendry

RELATED TEXT: 

Inscriptions at the base of the pavilion fountains mark key battles of the war. 

Roll call of the nation: The 56 U.S. states, territories, and District of Columbia that united in a common cause are inscribed on these pillars. They alternate, to the right and left of the field of stars, based on when they entered the Union. Delaware was the first state. 

The Freedom Wall’s 4,000 gold stars commemorate the more than 400,000 Americans who gave their lives in the war. 

Twin Atlantic and Pacific pavilions symbolize a war fought across two oceans.

Building the Memorial:  In 1993 Congress authorized the American Battle Monuments Commission to establish a World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. Selected in a national competition, Friedrich St. Florian designed the memorial. Funded mostly by private donations, it was begun in September 2001 and dedicated on May 29, 2004.


Ideals of Democracy: Placing the memorial between the Washing­ton Monument and Lincoln Memorial reflects the importance of World War II in preserving and internationalizing democratic ideals won under George Washington and defended under Abraham Lincoln. This memorial continues America’s story of striving for freedom and individual rights.

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TEXT: World War II registry

Centered along the right edge of the brochure is brief text about the World War II Registry. The World War II Registry is a database of names of Americans in the war effort in uniform or on the home front. Access it through the memorial website www.wwiimemorial.com to enroll individuals. The website tells more about the memorial project.

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TEXT: About your visit

Centered along the right edge of the brochure below the text about the World War II Registry, a second paragraph gives brief visitor information. An information station is located near the memorial. Park rangers are present on site each day except December 25. The memorial may be secured for events celebrating National Independence Day. The World War II Memorial is one of over 380 parks in the National Park System. The National Park Service cares for these special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage.

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OVERVIEW: Accessibility

Free information guides are located at the Memorial.  The World War II Memorial is outdoors and wheel-chair accessible.  A limited number of wheelchairs are available on a first come, first served basis for use only while at the World War II Memorial. There is no cost, but a valid driver’s license is required and will be held until the wheelchair is returned.  We strive to make our facilities, services, and programs accessible to all.  For more information about our services, please ask a ranger, call, or check on our website.

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OVERVIEW: More information

The World War II Memorial is one of over 400 areas in the National Park System. To learn more visit, www.nps.gov.

ADDRESS: National Mall and Memorial Parks 900 Ohio Drive SW Washington, DC 20024-2000 

PHONE: 202-208-3818

WEBSITE: www.nps.gov/nacc


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