First opened in 2004, The World War II Memorial was built to honor Americans who served in the second World War. The Memorial consists of a plaza and fountain surrounded by 56 granite pillars with a pair of triumphal arches. There is also a Freedom Wall on the west side of the memorial. It is covered with 4,048 gold stars. Each one of the gold stars represent 100 Americans who died while serving in World War II.
The Memorial has two entrances which are in the form of arches. These two arches represent the two theaters of war during WW II. One is the Pacific Arch and the other is the Atlantic Arch (mostly for Europe).
The granite pillars which surround the memorial represent the names of the forty-eight states in the U.S. in 1945 as well as the Alaskan and Hawaiian Territories, the District of Columbia (Washington DC) and five other U.S. Territories (the Philippines, Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the United States Virgin Islands).
The memorial is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for visitor's to reflect on the sacrifice made by so many during the second World War. Early evening and morning hours are said to be very tranquil, peaceful times to visit the memorial and admire the surrounding views.
The sunken pool that is a part of the World War II Memorial--called the Rainbow Pool because its nozzles made a rainbow when turned on--was built before the World War II Memorial was built.
Congress first voted on a the construction of a World War II Memorial in 1987. However, the memorial was not commissioned until 1994 when the World War II Memorial Act was signed into law by Bill Clinton.
Ironically, the World War II Memorial has been widely criticized for resembling Nazi architecture.
Over 400 entries were submitted to the World War II design competition.
Ground breaking for the memorial occurred in 2001 (September).