Rite of Passage - WWI Memorial Washington DC
From the wide and open sidewalk North of the memorial park, visitors are drawn into a lower terrain separated from the surrounding berm by a retaining wall. This wall consists of 1597 grey granite steles (Stelai) each one representing one single day of the war. The first and last Stele, marking beginning and end of war, have exposed fronts. All other steles have only a cleft edge exposed, concealing possible commemorating inscriptions for that day and its momentous events. Some selected significant days in the stone wall - a silent chronology of the war - are manifested in an engraved granite marker that crosses the gravel path connecting a stone stele with a bench under a flowering tree on a wildflower meadow.
The stele-wall curving clockwise through the park is split into two segments. The first segment terminates at the stele of April 5, 1917 the day before the US declares war on Germany. The second segment is offset to the first, leaving a wide opening used as another entry to the lower terrain. At this juncture visitors enter the inner landscape or ‘battlefield’ in memory of the American Expeditionary Forces joining the Allied Forces.
The second segment of the timeline differs in its inclination angle from the first segment and honors the American servicemen and women bringing WW1 to an end. This last day, November 11, 1918 when Germany and Allies sign an Armistice, is represented by the final and largest granite stele with an engraved front facing West, towards the center of the inner landscape, a wildflower hill ushering in times of peace.
Location: Pershing Park, Washington DC