|Visiting the Empire State Plaza|
|New York State World War II Memorial|
Located next to the New York State Museum, this stirring memorial to those who served in World War II stands in striking contrast to many of the others.
Rather than creating a contemplative environment, it evokes the feelings of unrest and agitation which were characteristic of the war. Curved granite copings encircling the right half of the pool are inscribed with significant dates, places, and battles that occurred in the European theater, such as the Invasion of Normandy (D-Day) and the Battle of the Bulge, while the left half represents the Pacific theater, including Pearl Harbor, the Battle of Midway, and Iwo Jima. The water in the pool will be kept in constant turbulent motion.
Two large granite panels serve not only to divide the pool in half, but also to further commemorate those who served and the ideals that inspired them. The north panel includes Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Four Freedoms. Additionally, enameled bronze plaques depict the ribbons of the six primary World War II service medals, and every campaign fought is inscribed on the panel, so that all who served are remembered. The south panel includes quotes from General Douglas MacArthur and General Dwight D. Eisenhower.
A stainless steel eagle, created by Robert Eccleston and cast at the Tallix Foundry in Beacon, New York, serves as a powerful focal point at the center of the pool. It is mounted atop a pedestal, onto which a dedication by the memorial's designer and architect William F. O'Connor III, Deputy Commissioner for Office of General Services Design and Construction, is inscribed:
"Dedicated to the Men and Women of New York State Who Answered the Call to Serve in the Armed Forces and Merchant Marine of the United States of America during the Second World War. We Thank the 1,700,000 Who Served. We Honor the 61,997 Who Were Wounded. We Will Always Remember the 27,659 Who Died."
The walkway around the pool is constructed of granite slabs, edged with cobblestone to show the rough, narrow road traveled during the war. Surrounding the walkway are tall arborvitae hedges in the shape of a wreath, signifying not only the heroism and triumph of the war, but also the grief. Nine flags flank the south wall of the hedges, representing the United States, New York State, the New York State World War II Memorial, the five branches of the Armed Forces, and the Merchant Marine.
In a groundbreaking ceremony for the memorial in June, 2001, Governor George E. Pataki said,
"This memorial will stand as a permanent tribute to the 1.7 million New Yorkers whose heroism and sacrifice helped win the Second World War. By preserving their legacy for future generations, we will ensure that their patriotism and bravery are never forgotten."
Photos by: Michael Fredericks