Sound Off: How Should Visitors Honor the Fallen at the World War II Memorial?

Tarsitsa Ntova, George Gindikas

A recent article here at Military.com detailed the controversy over visitors wading in the fountain at the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC. There posted signs posted that announce that wading is prohibited (Honor Your Veterans. No wading. Coins damage fountain), but tourists start to ignore the signs when the temperature climbs.

Facebook commenters have let their feelings be know. One visitor wrote on the Friends of the World War II Memorial page, “My dad and I were here on an Honor Flight and as he read the names of the battles, he was very quiet and you could see he was reliving some of those times. “This memorial was built for them. It was not built for your entertainment. Be respectful. Show some restraint.”

Blake Gopnik, former art critic for the Washington Post, tells the paper that he thinks the waders are celebrating the democratic values that we defended in World War II: “I think it’s wonderful and respectful towards what veterans fought for . . . to turn [the memorial] into a place where they can go and frolic, almost like putting a pool in your back yard and telling neighbors to come and play. That’s a good American thing.”

Here’s the question for those who’ve served: how do you want to be honored? Should war memorials be a place of quiet reflection or is the hum of activity a better way to celebrate the sacrifices of the fallen?