When you think of the word “memorial” in Washington D.C., the first thing that comes to mind is probably the Lincoln or Jefferson Memorial. Well, it’s time to add the brand new World War II Memorial to the must-see list. With 56 granite columns split between two half-circles framing the Rainbow Pool and its fountains, this beautiful memorial honors the service of 16 million members of the Armed Forces and the 405,399 American casualties during WWII.

Picture 12As the only 20th century war honored on the National Mall, it has plenty of interesting things to see, many of which are full of symbolism and beauty. The granite columns symbolize the unity of the 48 states (at the time of the war), seven federal territories and Washington D.C. during WWII. Two 43-foot tall pavilions honor American victory on the Atlantic and Pacific fronts.

Away from the bright and bustling area and around the Rainbow Pool is a solemn wall of 4,048 Gold Stars, where each star pays tribute to 100 soldiers who sacrificed their lives for their country. There are also areas where dozens of battle names and military campaign designations are carved into stone. The memorial also offers several hidden treasures, such as the famous “Kilroy was here” graffiti.

Visitors can search the WWII Registry, a computerized database that honors Americans from the war. There are also daily tours, as well as more in-depth walking and bicycle tours that visit other areas as well.

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