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A Memorial for Heroes

A new memorial has recently been added to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The Mall is where the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and other famous landmarks are located. Now, if you go to the Mall you will also find the National World War II Memorial.

Plans for the memorial go back to the 1980s. World War II veteran Roger Durbin began pushing the United States Congress to build a monument to honor those who served during the war. “Why wait till we are all dead?” he asked.

The Memorial Opens

Many people agreed with Durbin that such a memorial was needed. Around 16 million Americans served in the military during World War II, and over 400,000 died. It was time to honor the men and women who served the nation during such a dangerous era.

It took more than 15 years, but Durbin's dream finally became a reality. On Memorial Day 2004, the president of the United States, other leaders, and thousands of visitors gathered to open the memorial. Their four-day celebration included a large reunion of World War II veterans. Those who were unable to come to Washington could greet other veterans electronically through the Reunion Message Center.

During the official opening ceremony, President Bush addressed the crowd. He spoke about the dangers young soldiers faced and the costs of defending the United States in the war. Toward the end of his remarks, he looked out over the gathering. “And now I ask every man and woman who saw and lived World War II, every member of that generation, to please rise, as you are able, and receive the thanks of our great nation.”