World War II memorial
Northeast lawn of the west campus, beside 11th Avenue
- Artist- Simon Kogan (1959 - present)
- Endorsing Entities- citizens of Washington State, every veterans service organization in Washington State, and numerous private donors
- Dedication Date- May 28, 1999
- Materials- bronze, melted torpedo railings, granite, stone
- Inscriptions- bronze blades contain the names of the nearly 6,000 Washingtonians who were killed in the war, large granite stones are engraved with major battles fought by year, over 3,000 granite tiles are inscribed with personal messages from project donors, a bronze plaque gives a summary of WWII events, and another bronze plaque reads 'When my country called, I answered… When my country asked, I gave… Reach out now, across the years and through the tears… Remember me.' - A WWII Veteran.
- Search for a name on the granite tiles
- List of Washington State Killed In Action (KIA)
History & significance:
This memorial was one of the first in the country to honor those who served in World War II, with particular focus on the nearly 6,000 Washington residents who gave their lives in battle. The project originated in 1995 when Washington’s Legislature appropriated $50,000 toward the cause. Olympia resident Simon Kogan was selected from among 42 entrants to design the monument.
Kogan, a Russian immigrant of Jewish descent, had always dreamed of building a commemorative work for this war that affected him so personally. His design was inspired by the first stanza of the song 'America the Beautiful,' and features a cluster of five, 14-foot high bronze blades, which bend into a form mirroring the shape of the capitol dome that looms behind. Each blade symbolizes one of the military units employed in the war and features shadowy images of servicemen. Upon close inspection, one finds that the ghost-like figures are actually formed using the etched names of Washington state’s war casualties.
One blade, rather than carrying the images of soldiers, depicts a mother holding an infant. The child’s shape, unlike the other figures, is not engraved out of names. This symbolizes future generations that were never born as a result of the war. The bronze blades are placed on a circular map of the world that indicates each of the war’s major battles with a bronze marker.
Beside the bronze blades, a winding river of 4,000 metal wheat stalks extends eastward. These stalks were originally intended to represent each of the state residents thought to have died in the war. However, during the time of the memorial’s construction, state officials identified an additional 2,000 casualties. The wheat field now collectively represents all those who died in the war. The wheat stalks were made from melted torpedo railings used on old U.S. warships, donated by the Bremerton Naval Shipyard.
Around the perimeter of the wheat sit five cut granite boulders are inscribed with the names of the major battles fought by year. Also surrounding the monument are engraved granite pavers that individuals purchased to help raise over $160,000 toward the $740,000 cost of the memorial. Many of these pavers contain personal messages. Messages can be viewed using an online tile search feature.
- 1999—The memorial was dedicated on May 28th.
- 2000—The names of 17 additional Washington WWII veterans were added to a bronze plaque at the seating area. Additionally, workers installed 781 new pavers recognizing events of the war and those who served in it. Drainage and lighting work was done in preparation for a Memorial Day 'rededication' of the year-old memorial, which was held on May 28 and attended by hundreds of people.
- 2002—2007 The memorial’s five bronze blades were periodically washed, waxed and buffed by hand to protect the finish and remove staining from birds. Donor tiles around the memorial were power washed twice annually to remove dirt and debris. Problems with cracking and displacement of tiles in some areas became a growing concern. Legibility of the tiles also worsened with time, as the original sand-colored grout was lost or darkened. Area repairs to damaged tiles did not last. Poor drainage at the memorial contributed to these problems, particularly during heavy winter rains, with streaming water in some areas and standing water in others.
- 2007 – Artist Simon Kogan expressed concerns over the finish on the bronze blades and the gradual darkening of the figures created by the inscribed names on each blade, which had been slightly burnished. Discussions with the artist were begun to establish a scope and cost for restoration of the bronze blades.
- 2008 - GA requested and received capital funding from the Legislature for restoration and repairs needed for the WWII and the Vietnam Veterans memorials.
- 2010 – All of the donor tiles around the memorial were removed. The lawn area surrounding the memorial was re-graded and significant drainage improvements installed. New donor bricks of the same granite but twice the thickness of the original tiles were created and installed in exactly the same locations. The original donor tiles were crushed and used as base material beneath a new concrete foundation for the band of engraved pavers. Artist Simon Kogan restored the memorial and recreated the ghost images on the five bronze blades, images which represent members of the armed forces as well as the civilians who participated in the conflict on the home front. The memorial’s restoration was marked along with the 69th anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day on December 7, 2010.