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The New York State World War II Memorial


The Empire State Plaza, located in Albany, New York is filled with reminders of our history as far as the eye can see. One of those strikingly beautiful markers is the New York State World War II Memorial, located next to the New York State Museum.

The New York State World War II Memorial is dedicated to the 1.7 million New Yorkers who answered the call to serve during the Second World War. During the groundbreaking ceremony for the memorial in 2001, Governor George E. Pataki said, “By preserving their legacy for future generations, we will ensure that their patriotism and bravery are never forgotten.”

As one first sets their eyes upon this sacred sight, they will immediately be drawn to the stainless steel eagle that sits at the center of the memorial. The hedges behind the eagle are in the shape of a wreath. New York State's Office of General Services writes that this signifies, "Not only heroism and triumph of the war, but also the grief."

The mighty stainless steel eagle at the center of the memorial.

The North panel also includes President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Four Freedoms. The memorial displays these as, "Freedom of Speech", "Freedom Of Religion", "Freedom From Want", and "Freedom From Fear." These lines are followed by the phrase, "The Rights Of All Men Everywhere." Below FDR's Four Freedoms are enameled bronze plaques that depict the ribbons of the six primary World War II service medals.

FDR's Four Freedoms and the ribbons of the six primary World War II service medals.

The designer and architect of the memorial was William F. O’Connor III. He had these words inscribed on the back of the all powerful eagle centerpiece, “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 dedication of the memorial by its designer and architect William F. O'Connor III.

The south panel of the memorial features quotes from two of the most prominent American commanders during the war, General Douglas MacArthur and General Dwight D. Eisenhower. These quotes are from messages that each commander relayed, announcing that the war in their respective theaters of combat had been won.

MacArthur and Eisenhower's quotes on the south panel.

Curved granite copings encircle the pool of the memorial and are inscribed with important dates, places, and battles from the conflict.

The right half of the pool is filled with inscriptions, dedicated to the European theatre of operations.

American Forces assaulted Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944 during Operation Overlord, commonly referred to as D-Day. Nearly 2,400 American casualties were sustained on Omaha.

Inscriptions along the left half of the pool are dedicated to the Pacific theatre of operations.

The Battle of Midway took place six month after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Midway was one of the most decisive American victories during the Pacific theatre of World War II.

The New York State Office of General Services writes, "The water in the pool will be kept in constant turbulent motion." This eternal state is symbolic of those difficult times and the sacrifices that were required to bring balance back to the world. Memorials like this make sure that we never forget the price that has been paid for our freedom.

On September 2, 1945, General Douglass MacArthur gave a radio address to the American people, announcing that Japan had surrendered. MacArthur said, "We have known the bitterness of defeat and the exultation of triumph, and from both we have learned there can be no turning back. We must go forward to preserve in peace what we won in war." MacArthur was right. Regardless of the period or conflict, we must always go forward, but in doing so, we must never forget the past.

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