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World War II Memorial: "Jewel Of The Mall"

Published : 2005-03-15

You can't visit the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, D.C., and not be moved by the war memorials. They are poignant reminders of our nation's conflicts during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Touring them, you can't help but think of the great sacrifices made during each conflict.

Photographer Stephen R. Brown captures that sense of sacrifice made during World War II, and the solemnity of its Memorial, in his handsome book, Jewel of the Mall: World War II Memorial. Jewel of the Mall is the revised edition of Mr. Brown’s WWII Memorial: Jewel of the Mall book, published in 2005 and " reviewed by Traveler contributing writer Bob Janiskee in 2008. The original book was 90 pages, and this new edition is 120 pages with a revised horizontal format.


Living in Washington, D.C., Mr. Brown was well-positioned to document the Memorial, but his instincts also served him well when, in 2003 as the Memorial's construction was getting under way, he reached out to sculptor Ray Kaskey and asked about documenting his work, as well, in creating the bronzes that stand in the Memorial. Not only was the photographer able to discuss the project with Mr. Kaskey, and photograph such behind-the-scenes work as World War II re-enactors in their field uniforms posing for the sculptor, but he also was able to chronicle the work to create the molds for the bronze castings and later witness the installation of the Memorial.

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Turn the pages of this 11-inch by 8-inch book and you'll see how the eight 10-ton bronze eagles were lifted into place on the Mall, meet the stone carvers who etched the granite with quotations from President Franklin D. Roosevelt, President Harry Truman, General Douglas McArthur, among others, and see a closeup of some of the 4,000 gold stars -- "one for every 100 Americans killed in combat" -- embedded into one end of the Memorial.

Working at all hours of the day and night, from a rich variety of angles and under a mix of skies and seasons, Mr. Brown captures the Memorial's touching solemnity and, even, its magnificence.

Here is a nighttime shot with lights illuminating some of the vertical blocks of granite that are graced with bronze wreaths and bearing the names of the 48 states, seven federal territories, and the District of Columbia that existed under the U.S. flag during the war, while off in the background is the Washington Monument.

There is a shot from above of the focal point Rainbow Pool with its fountains, backed by the entire Reflecting Pool with the Lincoln Memorial at the far end.

Here is a top-down photo of one aspect of the Memorial that memorializes each of the key battlegrounds in the Pacific theater bloodied by the war.

Over there is a closeup of Gen. MacArthur's quote at the end of the war: "Today the guns are silent. A great tragedy has ended. A great victory has been won. The skies no longer rain death. The seas bear only commerce. Men everywhere walk upright in the sunlight. The entire world is quietly at peace."

In the years since the Memorial was built, it has become one of the most popular destinations at the Mall. Millions of veterans groups, students and tourists pour in each year to pay tribute to the lives lost and sacrifices made by the Greatest Generation. Mr. Brown captures these moving ceremonies and moments, in the book's new section, A Living Memorial.

The book, with an introduction from former U.S. Sen. Robert Dole, who worked hard to see the Memorial built, is an affecting collection of images of a moving Memorial.

The twenty-four bronze bas-relief panels that flank the Ceremonial Entrance offer glimpses into the human experience at home and at war. They breathe new life into familiar black and white photographs or newsreels—especially, when a visiting veteran describes one of the scenes. The memorial also features areas where veterans’ recollections come flooding back, triggered by the sight of dozens of battle names and military campaign designations carved into stone. A wall of 4,048 Gold Stars silently pays solemn tribute to the sacrifice of more than 405,000 American lives. Fifty-six granite columns, split between two half-circles framing the rebuilt Rainbow Pool with its celebratory fountains, symbolize the unprecedented wartime unity among the forty-eight states, seven federal territories, and the District of Columbia. Bronze ropes tie the columns together, while bronze oak and wheat wreathes respectively represent the nation’s industrial and agricultural strengths. Two 43-foot tall pavilions proclaim American victory on the Atlantic and Pacific fronts—on land, at sea, and in the air. Several hidden treasures appear as well, such as the famous “Kilroy was here” graffiti familiar to every veteran of the Second World War.

Amazon Detail: Product Description

Jewel of the Mall: World War II Memorial is a 120 page full-color photographic book on the WWII Memorial with an introduction by Senator Robert Dole and photographs by renowned photographer Stephen R. Brown. The photographs in this book are exclusive and never to be duplicated because Stephen R. Brown had unprecedented access to the construction cranes at the Memorial during its construction. Panoramic scenes of the new face of the Mall comprise 60 percent of the book while the other 40 percent document the creation and installation of the sculpture and marble ornamentation that is part of the new memorial. This revised edition of "WWII Memorial: Jewel of the Mall" further details sculptor Ray Kaskey's use of the "lost wax" process and contains a new section called "A Living Memorial" which documents the day-to-day activities that make this Memorial so unique.

Mr. Brown has sold more than 100,000 WWII Memorial books through the Smithsonian and National Park Service bookstores and to a number of Veteran and Civic associations. The book is available at Stephen Brown Studio website or through Mr. Brown’s Amazon Author's page.



In October of 2006, my Great-Uncle, AC McCollum was featured in an article in his local newspaper. A friend of his had asked him if he would like to visit the WW2 Memorial in Washington, DC; naturally he said yes but the cost prevented him from doing so. His friend, a local businessman decided to rally the community (rather than just write a check to cover his expenses) and enough money was donated for him and a companion to visit this Memorial that is dedicated to his greatest generation!

My Great Uncle AC served on the USS Enterprise, the most decorated vessal of WW2. He and his twin brother AZ McCollum enlisted right after Pearl Harbor as 20 year old young men, both assigned to the "Big E". They saw action at Midway, Doolittle's Raid and on Aug. 24, 1942 almost 70 years ago, Uncle AC witnessed his brother get killed when they were bombed in the Solomon Islands.

From "The Daily Breeze, Torrance, CA October 31, 2006:

Stationed on the decorated USS Enterprise CV-6 aircraft carrier, McCollum served in the U.S. Navy from December 1941 through February 1944. He took part in eight major battles during that span -- all in the Pacific Theater -- and earned a chestful of medals as a result.

His role was that of a sight-setter for a gun with a 5-inch barrel on the starboard side of the ship. Cranking a pair of dials, McCollum calculated the distance and speed of enemy aircraft, compensating each time for the wind.

Here, he earned the moniker that would stick with him even after the war.

When a round once failed to discharge, fellow crew members frantically shouted "Clear the deck! Clear the deck!" and braced for the imminent blast.

Not McCollum. Without hesitation, he reached inside the cannon, removed the live shell with his bare hands and tossed it overboard.

The man previously known as A.C. was thereafter Ace, as in the Enterprise's "lucky ace."

"I figure I saved the life of about 30 people then," McCollum said proudly.

Uncle AC went to Washington DC where he was photographed, interviewed, treated to meals and honored as the Patriot that he is! He visited Arlington Cemetery, the White House, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Lincoln Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Museum of Aviation and Space and the Washington Monument. This was all due to the generosity and recognition of his community! In fact, so much money came in that Uncle AC donated the remainder to his local VFW!

Uncle AC had a small cameo appearance in "Battle 360", a documentary on the USS Enterprise created by A&E. He celebrated his 90th birthday last month but every day he grieves the brother he lost, forever 20 yars old!

Great story, Connie, thanks for sharing!

Thanks Kurt,

One of my hobbies is my family's Genealogy and I felt like this was too good not to share!


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