WW II Memorial will pay tribute to a generation
Numerous events planned for Memorial Day weekend
Published: Sunday, January 18, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 17, 2004 at 11:42 p.m.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - When aging patriots gather to mark the dedication of the National World War II Memorial this spring, they will encounter the sights and sounds from the era of the generation's greatest accomplishments.
A variety of events - from a veterans' reunion and photo displays, to concerts, memorial services and museum exhibits - are planned as part of the tribute scheduled for Memorial Day weekend.
"Tens of thousands of World War II veterans are making plans with their families to participate in the dedication celebration next May that will commemorate their service and sacrifice," Major Gen. John P. Herrling said.
Herrling, a retired Army general, is now the chairman of the American Battle Monuments Commission. In that role, he is overseeing construction on the 7.4-acre site bordered by the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.
Although construction is expected to be completed in March, America will officially accept the newest monument on the National Mall over the weekend of Memorial Day, the national holiday set aside to remember the nation's war dead.
The Smithsonian Institution's Center for Folklore and Cultural Heritage is producing a national World War II reunion on the Mall. The event, May 27-30, will include exhibits and entertainment selected to appeal to the families of the 70- and 80-year-olds who supported the war effort at home and abroad.
Military bands from units based in the Washington region will perform three two-hour shows at Washington's MCI Center. An interfaith memorial service planned for the Washington National Cathedral on May 29 could be relayed for viewing on big screen televisions.
A summer-long calendar of events for "America Celebrates the Greatest Generation," runs through Labor Day weekend. At the Smithsonian's Corcoran Gallery of Art, Norman Rockwell's the "Four Freedoms," will be the centerpiece of wartime exhibit.
"The 'Four Freedoms' display Rockwell's most famous works of art, illustrating President Roosevelt's speech to a joint session of Congress," said Bill Hanbury, chief executive officer of the D.C. Convention and Tourism Corp.
The paintings are titled "Freedom of Speech," "Freedom from Want," "Freedom of Religion," and "Freedom from Fear." They were issued as posters in 1943, and used as an incentive to spur war bond sales, with purchasers receiving a set of the posters as a gift. Done in Rockwell's distinctively heartwarming, sentimental style, the pictures show ordinary Americans standing up to speak, sitting down for a bountiful family meal, praying, and tucking a child into bed.
More than 100 Associated Press photographs, including Joe Rosenthal's iconic Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of Marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima, will be displayed at historic Union Station.
The Kennedy Center for Performing Arts has scheduled a big-band tribute to Glenn Miller, a popular bandleader whose plane disappeared over the English Channel in December 1944, as he flew to Paris to perform for U.S. troops.
"The new memorial and our promotional efforts should attract an additional million visitors to the region," Hanbury said. Tourism typically brings about 5 million people to the nation's capital each summer.
Other highlights will include an exhibit of real-life spy stories, the Navajo Codetalkers and the use of propaganda during the war at the International Spy Museum; and a film series at the AFI Silver Theater and Cultural Center in nearby Silver Spring, Md., showing "Patton," "Casablanca" and other legendary movies of and about the era.
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