Washington DC is now home to its first national memorial dedicated to World War I (WWI), with Friday’s unveiling on Pennsylvania Avenue.
The new memorial honors the approximately five million American military personnel who fought overseas in WWI, around 200,000 who were wounded, and more than 117,000 US soldiers who lost their lives.
“It is a memorial to all Americans who supported their troops and did so with pride, then as they do now,” said the website of the First Colors ceremony.
The opening ceremony for the memorial featured a military flyover by two F-22 Raptor aircraft from the 94th Fighter Squadron, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. The American flag was raised for the first time over the newly-built National World War I Memorial.
“The Great War [touched] almost every American family at the time,” President Joe Biden said in a recorded presentation. “For too long, that nationwide service has not been fully commemorated here in the nation’s capital. This memorial finally will offer a chance for people to visit and reflect and to remember. More than 100 years has passed since WWI ended, but the legacy and courage of those Doughboys sailing off to war, and the values they fought to defend, still live in our nation today.”
A bugler from the US Army Band “Pershing’s Own,” played To the Colors on a bugle that belonged to General John Pershing, who led the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I.
The ceremony was broadcast live for the public at www.ww1cc.org/firstcolors.
“It is our duty to remember what they fought for and why they fought,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said. “Thought to be the war to end all wars, those who lived it experienced unimaginable carnage. And by the end of the conflict, it ripped apart four empires and killed more than 22 million people, and it set the conditions for World War II, 20 years later — which was the most destructive war in human history.”
Until this year, the nation’s capital did not have a national memorial commemorating WWI, while it has national memorials honoring service men and women who died in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
At the new memorial’s site, there are sculptures, fountains and quotes which pay tribute to those who served in World War I. Another memorial, one dedicated to General Pershing is also near the spot, which is in the vicinity of the White House.