"This temple will recall for all time their services and sacrifices."
President Herbert Hoover, November 11, 1931
The Great War of 1914 to 1918 transformed the world.
The war introduced lethal new technologies, inaugurated unparalleled battlefield slaughter, fostered mass genocide, took nine million lives, unleashed history's worst epidemic, swept away four empires and redrew international boundaries. The United States participated in just the last year of World War One but lost over 125,000 men and women to combat, wounds and disease.
Donations from Washington, D.C. residents funded the design, construction and deduction of this tribute to over 26,000 Washingtonians that served in the Great War. In a manner atypical for that era, the names of the nearly 500 that died appear on this memorial in alphabetical order, regardless of rank, race, gender or ethnicity. On Armistice Day 1931, native residents such as famed band director John Philip Sousa joined with temporary residents such as President Herbert Hoover and General of the Armies John J. Pershing to dedicate what then was known as the District of Columbia World War Memorial.
Photo caption, lower left:
Background image of the memorial dedication, November 11, 1931 [Courtesy of the National Archives.]
Photo caption, upper right:
National Park Service Photo
Throughout 2011, the National Park Service restored the memorial and rehabilitated the adjacent landscape to reflect the 1930s period of significance. The project also featured replacement of the lighting system and fabrication of a reproduction bronze lid (above), missing from the chamber floor since the 1980s.