A watercolor of the proposed Mall by Joe McKendry from the ABMC website.
The World War II Memorial in Washington. D.C. was dedicated on Saturday, May 29, 2004.
Thanks to an exceptional AWON Fundraising effort, among many others, the Memorial
has been funded by private donations. To see detail on the AWON Fundraising effort,
led by Chickie Berry, Click Here.
This page details the more recent history of the Memorial and AWON's role in that history
to make the Memorial (and a specific remembrance of our Fathers) a reality on The Mall in Washington.
Informational Report to all AWON Members and Others Concerned
By Ann Bennett Mix, AWON Founder, DC Liaison, May, 2001
WWII Memorial Opponents May Obstruct Construction With Technicality
If those who support the National WWII Mmemorial do not make an effort,
and "raise the noise level" of support, a few who oppose the location and
design of the Memorial may succeed in destroying the efforts of the American
Battle Monuments Commission, and millions of citizens, by using a technical
screw-up by the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) Board to kill the
I have learned there is a serious challenge to the World War II Memorial,
based on a technicality.
Apparently, the legal status of the Chairman of the Board of the NCPC was
determined to have been void during the time he headed hearings where the
design was reviewed and approvals were made. The Chairman voted on all these
Now, because the appointment of the Chairman had legally expired at the
end of 1998 and he stayed on and voted in hearings, the entire legitimacy of
the review process and the final approval of the design have been brought
The NCPC, under a newly appointed Chairman, must now reconsider its
previous votes and will meet on June 14th to ratify its previous approvals.
It is unknown which way the NCPC will vote under the new Chairman. Their
final approval of the memorial design last September was passed by a 7-5
margin. The memorial would have lost on a tie vote, so one vote could make
NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT
If you support the WWII Memorial and its current location and design, now
is the time for action and to raise your voice regarding your wishes for the
Those who wish to insure that the Memorial construction moves forward at
the current site are asked to attend in force the June 13th and June 14th
meeting of the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) in Washington, DC.
They will convene at 9:00 am both days.
We will be marching to the meeting from a site to be determined. Contact
me for an update on this if you wish to participate. You are encouraged to
march with us. Please bring a small American flag. Call 540 370-0668 or email
Everyone is also encouraged to sign up to testify in support of the
memorial, call (202) 482-7200 no later than noon on June 12th. Since people
are called to testify in the order they sign up, the sooner you call the
better. Meeting updates are posted on their website at info.ncpc.gov
Letters of support are also urgently needed. Letters should be sent ASAP
by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to:
Richard L. Freidman, Chairman
National Capital Planning Commission
401 9th Street NW
North Lobby, Suite 500
Washington DC 20576
The opponents of the Memorial (approximately 30 zealots) have already
succeeded in delaying construction because of their court actions. The
lawsuit filed to prevent the memorial from being built on its dedicated site
cannot be settled until after the NCPC situation is resolved. And there is no
way to predict how long it then will take to complete the litigation process.
It is estimated that it will take 30 months from the beginning of construction
to complete the Memorial. Although the ABMC has great confidence that the
Memorial will be built, "when" is now in question, and the site and design
could become an issue.
Every day of delay means thousands of WWII veterans, widows, and family
members will not live to see the Memorial built. This is cause for great
concern by the ABMC, which has been aware since the beginning that many of
those the Memorial is meant to honor will not live to see it dedicated.
A RAY OF HOPE
There is, however, a ray of hope regarding the delays. It is possible
that Congress could pass a bill that directs construction of a WWII Memorial.
They can simply say, "Build this with the design already approved."
Senator Tim Hutchinson from Arkansas has introduced a bill (S.580) in the
Senate that would end the delays and allow construction to begin. It would
"expedite the construction of the World War II memorial in the District of
Columbia." If this gets passed by the House and Senate and signed by the
President the current problems would "go away" and the construction could
proceed. The Bill is now in the Senate Government Affairs Committee. A
companion Bill is expected from the House.
SUPPORT FOR S. 580
It is important that you as individual concerned citizens write letters
in support of S.580. Quantity is important! Let your Senators,
Representatives and Heads of Committees know how you feel.
Our membership in a grassroots effort, under the supervision of member
Chickie Berry, has now raised more than $30,000 for the WWII Memorial. Because of
our members efforts we are proud to say that among those civic, professional,
fraternal, and community based organizations supporting the nationwide
campaign, AWON is now in the category of Protector ($25,000 to $49,999) along
with the AFL-CIO, the Plumbers, Steam Fitters Union and the United Auto
You can now go further, if you wish, and aid the American Battle Monument
Commission in moving the Memorial to completion!
STRENGTH IN UNITY
In our recent Board meeting on April 22nd, our Board members committed to
writing their own individual letters of support. Although individual feelings
about the Memorial and its location and design may vary, we feel that AWON
members who support the memorial should be given the information necessary to
take action and to express their views through their own letters and
testimony at the NCPC.
We can make a difference. We can do together what we cannot do alone!
Ann Bennett Mix
Founder, DC Liaison
SUMMARY OF: S. 580
Introduced March 20,2001
Requires the American Battle Monuments Commission to proceed expeditiously
with the construction of the National World War II Memorial at the dedicated
Rainbow Pool site in the District of Columbia without regard to the National
Environmental Policy Act of 1969, the Commemorative Works Act, or any other
law pertaining to the site or design of the Memorial. Makes the decision to
construct and decisions about design final, conclusive, and not subject to
administrative or judicial review.
To Support this bill write to:
Senate Armed Services Committee
Chairman John Warner, Sen. R-VA
225 Russell Bldg., Room 225
Washington DC 20510-4601
Phone: 202 224-2023
House Armed Service Committee
Chairman Bob Stump R-AZ
211 Cannon House Office Building
Washington DC 20515-0303
Phone: 202 225-4576
Fax: 202 225-6328
Senate Veterans Affairs Committee
Chairman Arlen Specter, Sen. R-PA
711 Hart Bldg.
Washington DC 20510
Phone: 202 224-4254
Fax: 202 228-1229
Web Form: www.senate.gov/~specter/webform.htm
House Veterans Affairs Committee
Chairman, Lane Evans, D-IL
2211 Rayburn House Office Bldg.
Washington DC 20515
Phone: 202 225-5905
Fax: 202 225-5396
Senate Committee of Government Affairs
Chairman Fred Thompson, Sen. R-TN
511 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg
Washington DC 20510
Fax: 202 228-3679
Here are some links you can use to learn more, or to express, or to track your support
for this already long overdue Memorial to the generation who supported, to the men
who fought, and to the 405,399 who died in WWII, including our Fathers.
WWII Memorial Architect Friedrich St. Florian and AWON Founder, Ann Mix.
Ann Mix -- remarks made to the NCPC -- June, 1999
"I asked them to stop and think about what they were doing and come up with
some better way to represent the war dead. If it is truly impossible to list
the names, perhaps they could record the names on an endless tape and have the
tape playing at the memorial in the "sacred place."
"Perhaps those who died could be symbolized by bright stars on the ceiling of
the "sacred place," which would come on when some one stepped into the space
and while the recording was played."
Architect Friedrich St. Florian's response . . .
"I like your idea of the stars. I promise you I will do something with that idea."
The current Gold Star Wall of Honor design.
Report to the Board -- August, 1999
Regrading the WWII Memorial
Ann Mix, AWON Founder/Executive Director
It is good to see that Nick has brought up the design of the WWII Memorial
and I think it would be good to run down a little history and facts regarding
our efforts at participation so far.
My major concern about the memorial is to see that our war dead are
represented in a meaningful way, which is not being done with the current
Since we first heard about the memorial, Jeff Ward and I have been in touch
with Skip Shannon of the American Battle Monuments Commission, who has been
very helpful, and have made contact with other people involved, including a
war orphan who sits on the Board for the memorial and is a member of AWON,
It has taken years of trying to find out what is going on, what the design
would be, when meetings would be held, etc. We finally got on a mailing list
that gave us information about meetings and Jeff and Connie Caldwell have
attended some of these "public" meetings on the Memorial in DC.
When I went to DC in June, Board Member Connie Caldwell and I went to a
meeting of the National Capital Planning Commission and saw a model of the purposed
design for the first time and signed up to talk. Connie conceded her time to
me so I would have more than five minutes! I tried to carry the message that
we are here, who we are, that we are interested in what is being done and
that we support the memorial, but that we have some concerns.
The major concern I addressed was that those who died be given a proper
tribute. This included the fact that the names of the war dead should be
listed, or some other means of recognizing them as individuals be considered,
and that something be done to recognize the sacrifice and/or to promote a
healing experience for the families of the men who died.
The Gold Star Wall of Honor design will include more than 4,000 stars:
one for each 100 men who died.
When we had previous on-line discussions of the memorial about two years
ago, these were the most prevalent concern of our members. The messages
members wrote at that time were copied and given to Jon Mangis who is a
member of AWON and on the World War II Memorial Board. He carried those
messages to the American Battle Monuments Commission. As a result I was told
that plans for some kind of recognition for families would be included, such
as a large Gold Star and inscription mentioning the families.
The current design is rather hard to describe but the main elements of the
design are pillars that represent each state which surround the Rainbow Pool
and a "sacred space" which contains a large "tomb." This "sacred space" is
the full extent of the recognition of the war dead along with inscriptions
which have not been decided on. They are currently soliciting inscriptions
for all aspects of the memorial. But these will not be names.
From the very beginning it was decided no names of the war dead would be on
the memorial. When requests for designs were sent out to architects they were
instructed that no designs would be accepted that included the names of the
war dead. From what I have been able to gather they believed at the time that
no truly accurate list of the war dead existed and that putting names on the
memorial would lead to having to make many corrections. Also the only list of
all the war dead is only on microfiche. It has never been converted to
computer and would be expensive and timely to convert to computer or to
extract the information in a usable form. Therefore they are not even
planning to list the war dead on a computer terminal at the site. What will
be on the computer terminal is names that people submit and will include
anyone who served in the war effort and anyone who served in the war in any
capacity. It is true if you submit your dad's name you can go there and punch
the name in and see it but this experience is not going to be anything like
seeing his name listed on a memorial.
When I went to the National Capital Planning Commission, I spoke with the project
manager, Jimmy Jacobs, and these were the objections he raised regarding names,
and he was adamant that no names would be listed on the memorial and
that no "list" existed which could be used. I mentioned the list of War Dead
on microfiche and he seemed irritated and said "I am well familiar with the
When I spoke to the Planning Commission I covered the following points:
That hundreds of thousands of families left their loved ones overseas and no
provision was ever provided for families to visit these graves. That only a
very small percentage have ever been able to visit the graves of the one who
they lost. That 78,000 were missing or had no body recovered and are listed
on the Memorials at these overseas cemeteries but these families have not had
a grave or a name on a memorial to visit in this country or been able to
travel to these overseas memorials. This has left us in a state of unresolved
That more than 183,000 children were left fatherless and that no one has ever
asked us what we wanted or needed. The government decided what we would be given
and we were supposed to be grateful and that the planners of this memorial are
doing the same thing.
That our fathers were human beings with families, not just heroes who died,
and deserve to be remembered and called by name.
That a stone coffin does not represent them as individuals, or give families
a meaningful place to go to remember and grieve and does not give future
generations a true sense of how great the American sacrifice was, in terms of
the loss of lives.
I asked them to stop and think about what they were doing and come up with
some better way to represent the war dead. If it is truly impossible to list
the names perhaps they could record the names on an endless tape and have the
tape playing at the memorial in the "sacred place." Perhaps those who died
could be symbolized by bright stars on the ceiling of the "sacred place"
which would come on when some one stepped into the space and while the
recording was played. I offered this as my own idea of what could be done and
as an example of an alternative to the current "coffin" representing the war
dead and appealed to them to come up with something better than what has been
After the meeting was over the architect came up to me and said he liked the
idea of stars he said "I like your idea of the stars. I promise you I will do
something with that idea." And Ambassador Hayden Williams, Chairman of the Board,
came up to me and said he liked the idea of the recording of the names. The
Ambassador said he would check into the recording of the names. I have
planned on getting back to both of them and to follow up on this.
. . . The main thing is to discover the right contacts and the right method of
making a difference, and we will need to make our moves carefully and with as
little "confrontation" as possible.
The fact that we are officially supporting the memorial financially with
Chickie Berry's grass root level program is an important aspect in whatever
influence we might have. If we are actively engaged in supporting the
memorial, this definitely helps us get "heard" when we reach out.
Any new ideas will be gathered and they will be used to help us have a
sense of what you think and feel are the most important aspects of the
memorial design we should attempt to influence as a group. They may also be
copied and be sent to individuals who have some influence on the memorial
design. We will try to represent you in this effort with the information you
provide us about your ideas and concerns.
Love and Peace to All. Ann Mix
Ann Mix and John "Skip" Shannon, National WWII Memorial Project,
at ABMC Headquarters. Skip has been very helpful.
Speech by Ann Mix given at a September hearing before the Committee on the
WWII Memorial, Washington, DC, regarding the Memorial's location and design
I am happy to be here on behalf of the American WWII Orphans Network in
support of the National WWII Memorial. We are an organization founded for the
purpose of bringing together the sons and daughters of Americans who died in
service to our country in WWII. Through a grass roots effort our members went
out among their communities and friends and raised more than $30,000 for the
Memorial. We are not a large group and this was a significant amount
considering our size.
The Network members support the location and the design of the Memorial
but have concerns regarding final details. But I want to first thank the
American Battle Monuments Commission, the Architect and all who have worked
so hard to bring this to pass, for listening to our pleas for special
recognition of our war dead on the memorial. We feel the addition of the Gold
Stars in the design is a beautiful, meaningful, tribute to all who, like our
fathers, died in the war.
We are very, very grateful you have incorporated the stars into the
design -- they prove that you listen when concerns are expressed. We are
satisfied that those who gave their lives, and those of us left behind to
grow up without fathers as a result of their sacrifice, have not been, and
will never be, forgotten.
In order to understand why a Memorial is so important to families who
lost a loved one, we have to go back in time. When the war ended, it was many
years before the bodies were either brought home for burial or families gave
permission to leave those they loved overseas in American cemeteries on
foreign soil. Many widows and families chose to leave these men with their
comrades because they knew the bodies, as a collective whole, would create a
remarkable monument to the sacrifice the United States made to save the world
We were little children when these decisions were made and had no part
in them. I was seven when my mother signed the papers to leave my father in
Italy. More than 292,000 men were left in foreign countries; more than 78,000
of the missing are recognized at these cemeteries on memorials. But there was no
provision made for our mothers or for us to visit these sites, although there
were provisions after WWI for pilgrimages for widows.
At the time it was not understood that this would cause unresolved grief
for many families -- with no funeral, grave marker, wall -- nowhere we could
go to see a grave or touch a name. Our fathers disappeared and we were never
allowed to mourn them or the fact that we had no father. We were asked to be
good and grateful for whatever we were given. Many of our mothers never
remarried and many raised a child, sometimes four or more, alone. The world
went back to restoring normalcy while nothing for us was "normal" again.
Now, sons, daughters and other family members have come together and
learned we were never alone. There were hundreds of thousands of children,
and even more family members, facing life without some one they loved.
Our reason for wanting a Memorial may not be the same as Veteran's
groups, or the rest of the country. We need a place where we can go and
remember and finally publicly mourn our loss with our country by our side.
The Gold Stars are a great step forward, but we continue to ask for one
more addition to this magnificent memorial. We ask you to help us to not lose
our dads once again to the "collective whole" but to retrieve them from
anonymity. We ask for you and the rest of the country to call them by name.
I see a solution to the lack of engraved names on the memorial; I have
mentioned it in the past but would like to say it again. We ask your support
in including an endless tape on which the over 400,000 names of our war dead
would be read.
I envision asking people to read names, such as Bob Dole and other
Veterans, school children from different states, and even people from Allied
countries such as Queen Elizabeth. We could also ask people who lost some one
in the war such as war orphans Tom and Dick Smothers of the Smothers
Brothers, Opera Soprano Fredericka Van Stade, Retired Commander of the
Special Forces General Wayne Downing, Congressman Tom Petri, and Pulitzer
Prize winning poet James Tate, all of whom lost their fathers in the war.
The tape could play near the Gold Stars or near the tomb, and people
could stop and listen and contemplate our sacrifice. It would attract people
from all over the country, who would make the pilgrimage just to hear the
name read of some one they loved. There could be a publication providing the
times when the names from each part of the alphabet would play.
When we who loved them are gone, others will stand and hear their names
read like a requiem -- a sad, mournful, litany to the cost of the war, and
the price we paid for peace. If future generations cannot understand the cost
they can never truly appreciate what was bought at such great price.
I offer up the words from a play by Shakespeare sent to me by Ellen
Jones, a member of our group who lost her father. They are from Romeo and
Juliet and many of you have heard them before. I submit them as perfect words
for inscription on the Memorial near the Gold Stars:
...When he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night...
Wm Shakespeare, "Romeo and Juliet" II, ii, 2
In closing, the American WWII Orphans Network supports this memorial.
Its location is appropriate to the magnitude of our most heroic effort on
behalf of others. Its design is a product of the input of some of our finest
minds and talent. We ask only that you acknowledge what families all over
America gave -- our most precious ones -- for whom we still weep. Please help
us find a way to call them by name, and truly note their passing through our
world. Count them, one by one, and cut them into little stars. Speak their
names in our nation's capital day and night. Retrieve them from anonymity, so
that each can be a star who "will make the face of heaven so fine."
Update: As of Memorial Day, 2001, President Bush signed legislation to go forward
with the construction of the WWII Memorial, on the Mall in Washington. Please click
the button below (Memorial Day at the White House) to see photos of the occasion.
Update: As of late February, 2002, contractors are hard at work remembering our Fathers, aiming for an announced
Dedication on the Mall in Washington, D.C. of May 29, 2004.
We'll be there.
To see pictures of some of the construction progress, provided by a contractor who's
working on the WWII Memorial now (Apex Piping, Inc.) Click Here!
To see June, 2003 pictures of progress, provided by the WWII Memorial Commission,Click Here!
Many thanks to AWON Founder Ann Mix for showing us the way.
On behalf of AWON, we dedicate this page to the memory of:
PVT Sydney W. Bennett, KIA 19 April, 1945, near Mongiorgio, Italy