WWII Memorial dedicated 15 years ago today after years of planning

Former paratrooper Merle McMorrow and his wife Margaret, of Fargo, share a moment together in 2007 while walking the grounds of the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. Forum file photo

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Nearly 60 years after the end of World War II, veterans finally had a memorial to call their own 15 years ago today.

On May 29, 2004, President George W. Bush dedicated the World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Construction on the memorial, which sits between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, began in 2001 after Congress passed a bill authorizing its construction. The government provided $16 million of funding, while private donations (in part spurred on by "Saving Private Ryan" star Tom Hanks) brought in another $181 million.

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The memorial honors the 16 million who served in the armed forces of the U.S. during the war, the more than 400,000 who died and all who supported the war effort at home.


The 48 states that existed during WWII, along with seven federal territories and the District of Columbia, are each represented on the memorial with a granite pillar and wreath. Entrances on each end of the memorial represent victories in the Atlantic and Pacific. The memorial even contains two hard-to-find graffiti images of the famous WWII-era saying, "Kilroy was here."

About 4.6 million people visit the WWII Memorial every year, including travelers from the many Honor Flight organizations across the United States.

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The WDAY Honor Flight sent approximately 1,000 World War II and, later, Korean War veterans to Washington between 2007 and 2017. A book commemorating the project is available for sale at on the deals tab.

The flight is now named Veterans Honor Flight of ND/MN and continues to send local veterans to the nation's capital.

Tracy Briggs is an Emmy-nominated News, Lifestyle and History reporter with Forum Communications with more than 35 years of experience, in broadcast, print and digital journalism.
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