7/13/15 Update: The Marine family who snapped the photo reflected on the following:
Yesterday, along with my husband, our two small children and a family friend, I visited the National World War II Memorial in Washington, DC. The memorial is a beautiful and poignant tribute to the more than 16 million Americans who served, and the more than 400,000 Americans who lost their lives, during this war.
For those who have not had the opportunity to see this memorial in person, I must say that it is a moving experience: 56 granite pillars are arranged in a semicircle, each one standing 17 feet tall and inscribed with the name of one of the US states or territories in 1945. Two walls on the east side of the memorial feature bronze plaques depicting iconic scenes from the war: new soldiers receiving physical exams, taking an oath to the Constitution, being issued military gear, and engaging in combat.
The final two plaques show a soldier on the battlefield receiving his last rites, and then a joyous parade for the fortunate ones who came home. The freedom wall on the west side of the memorial boasts 4048 gold stars, each one representing 100 Americans who died in the war. Housed within the center of this memorial is a fountain, 246 feet by 147 feet. After slowly making our way around the memorial, we hoped that sitting alongside the fountain would provide an opportunity for quiet reflection.
Unfortunately, the scene that we encountered at this sacred memorial fountain was anything but quiet and reflective. Along the entire circumference of the fountain, we witnessed over one hundred people, from diapered babies to grown adults, wading and splashing in the water. People were taking selfies and posing for cameras, as if they were enjoying a relaxing day at the pool or beach.
But what was more appalling than the scene itself was that the entire fountain is surrounded by signs – one at least every 25 feet – that read, “Honor Your Veterans…No Wading”. For those tourists who don’t speak English, the sign also includes a picture of a stick figure standing in the water, with a red line drawn through it – a symbol that clearly translates. The individuals enjoying a cool dip in the water that day were plainly choosing to ignore the request to show respect at this hallowed site for the sake of their own comfort, fun, and photo ops. At one point, I was so astounded by the scene that I stopped to take a photo as a mother and father stood in the water, laughing and posing while their preteen child captured the moment on camera. I have included that photo here.
For many, it might have been easy to walk away from this scene with a simple shaking of the head, and move on about their day. For me, it was not. I am the proud wife of an active duty Marine Corps officer and the daughter of an Army veteran. I know what it feels like to give your husband one last kiss before sending him off on a months-long deployment to a combat zone, hoping and praying all the while that he will return, and that there will be more kisses one day.
I also understand that I am in the minority; most American families today have not been faced with the reality of sending someone they love off to war. Less than 1% of our current population chooses to serve in our armed forces; the rest of our country enjoys the freedom granted to us by that very small faction. The World War II generation knew all too well the feeling of answering the call of duty; of sacrificing themselves and their loved ones to a greater cause.
They rose to the challenge simply because it was the right thing to do. It is because of this generation of war heroes that those of us who have followed have enjoyed an unprecedented quality of life. We are forever indebted to these brave veterans, and should demand that they be honored. Their memorial deserves to be a solemn place for grateful Americans to show our respect for those who did what very few choose to do today.
More disturbing still is that the behavior I witnessed yesterday is largely representative of our society as a whole; of people who believe that rules are only intended for others to follow, and that cooling off on a hot day is more important than obeying a silly sign.
I’m sure the Marines who fought at Guadalcanal would have loved to take a dip in a nice, cool pool of clean water. It wasn’t an option; they were too busy obeying orders.
7/12/2015: A photo posted on a Facebook group brings to light visitors wading into the reflection pool at the National World War II Monument (and hundreds more not in the photograph). There are numerous signs posted every 25 feet or so that read, “Honor your veterans…no wading” as well a sign which could be understood by those who don’t read English.
That being said, a handful of military families weighed in stating they’ve visited the monument several times and never noticed the signs.
Another offered the following, “Those signs have been there for years – and ignored for years. I am torn on this though while sitting there, taking in the memorial I was offended by the people ignoring the signs and wading in the water. I found it extremely disrespectful and even made sure to point out the signs to the offenders. Then I thought of my grandfather and how much he loved “his” memorial and how he would have smiled to see happy children enjoying it. There is something beautiful in finding joy and happiness after the darkness of war. I could argue it either way – solemn reverence or joyful celebration of life.”
Here’s the original post:
“Visited the beautiful National World War II Monument with my husband and our friend today, both of whom are active duty military officers. I was shocked to see over 100 of our fellow tourists wading in the fountain, directly in front of the multiple signs that read, “Honor your veterans…no wading”. Adults and children alike were blatantly disobeying this rule, which is intended to keep this a solemn place to honor the more than 405,000 Americans who gave their lives for our freedom. Perhaps a greater presence by the park service could prevent this type of behavior from continuing in the future.”
This par for the course with this new generation we are in big trouble, they don’t care about what the government is doing to this country. We have a lot to say being a former Marine , on my surprise about so much disrespect of the generation behind us. We as citizens and Veterans have to protect our memorials , we need to police them and make sure they are not destroyed or defaced for any reason. If we do catch or observe anybody Doing any thing to our memories we will deal with them ourselves.
shame on you. That generation you are bashing is also the people who are currently serving in our Armed Forces. As for policing your monuments, that is insane, There are no veterans buried at that monument, no one has been dishonored and nothing has been defaced.
Are you kidding me, you stupid fuck face that is a memorabilia for the lost lives of the veterans that have fought and died in war it is there to show respect, not to have fun at you stupid fucking ignorant cunt if you do not think that what them people are doing is disrespectful then go fucking kill yourself because you are part of the problem you inconsiderate fuck…..
Respect goes slong wsy…you. taljing cursing a person.. disrespecting someone calliing them cunts…brcause they dont agree with you…How bout respecting your country and its leader…respect goes all the way not part…and in life you cant control,others..jus pray..,Have
Respect yourself..,pray for others ad “well,as yourself…more than ever…God bless America..,GOD BLESS You…
While I wouldn’t have quite put it like Chris did, the essence of his comment is 100% spot on.
They are too busy destroying our history and burning our flag or wiping their buts on our flag. They hAve not been taught to respect others and to respect other peoples property or to respect our memorials and the life that these great men and women gave freely that these idiots can be free and have freedom of speech but they are taking it to far so as to take our freedom of religion and speech and to bear arms away from us. They need to grow up one day they might have to fight for their life and freedom.
When you say “They” who are you referring to? I guess I am concerned because it looks like in the photo two of the three people in the picture are adults who are having their kids take their picture. They look to be in their 30s and 40s. Is that the “they” you are referring to? Please enlighten us with who you are referring to because it was not “well said” as Cathy says.
I think it’s pretty clear who “they” are.
Who burns flags?
Who protests against the military?
Who wants to make guns illegal?
Age has nothing to do with it.
Idiots!! Children included……
Oh my God…
Are these oxygen thieves illiterate, blind, or brain dead? This kind of thing pisses me off to no end.
I’d like to see the DC Park Police start issuing hefty fines for Desecrating a Monument.
It is in keeping with the spirit that caused the Kilroy was here symbol to be carved into the outer ring of the monument. Certainly they all fought for the freedom that these people take advantage of. Thank God for all who served.
I agree that the memorisls should keep the air of solemn remembrance, I disagree on two points. The first is the condescending attitude that only those that serve in active military are building and protecting our country. BS – they are one vey important piece of our entire community. We all serve in different ways – what of the teacher that teaches your child, or the researcher that offers hope for things like PTSD? And second, if all ages of people wade and cool off in the water, then I would wonder if they shouldn’t have chosen a different architectural design? ?
Apparently some of the teachers didn’t do too good a job . . . these morons couldn’t read the signs!
This is a prime example of how the parents are to blame for the actions of their children. You might expect children to disobey the signs and have to be corrected by the parents, but in this case the parents are the ones at fault. Maybe if there had been no signs, I could, no I couldn’t, There are even signs. This country is lost!
We recently visited the Washington DC Memorials and Arlington Cemetery. I am 35, husband 37, and our 5 children ages 5-13. My kids, even my ADHD 7 year old and 5 year old understood the signage, and during the Changing of the Guard at Arlington, my 5 kids were silent understanding the importance of what they were witnessing. I am dumbfounded and saddened by this photo and those who were wading in this MEMORIAL. They should be ashamed, American or not, that children lead a better example than themselves.
It breaks my heart to see what is going on today. We as Vietnam Vets. know what it feels like to be mistreated and dishonered. Our dead brothers and sisters thank God don’t have to see our flag being abused in the name of free speach, it makes me sick to hear people say they have the right to walk on our flag (they have the freedom of free speach). NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO DISHONER THE OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS THAT DIED FOR FREEDOM!!!!!!!
I have not been in the military myself but I have ancestors that fought in the other fights for our freedom and I also have a set of grandparents who came here to get away from oppression in Europe and I find the behavior of these disrespectful people appalling. I think sometimes an eye for an eye is the only way people look at things that they do is to see someone do that thing sort of thing to them. I guess maybe if someone knew who they were and go dance on their family graves,then maybe they would understand what they have done. Unfortunately they are disrespectful people so I am thinking they probably would not care. The lack of understanding what a wonderful country we have and that we need to protect our freedoms just blows my mind at the ignorance.
I go down every year for Memorial Day and seen this. I told them to get out and they did,I told them it wasn’t for that but for respect for the soldiers that died for us. So I think you should have said something.
so disgraceful shame on them.
Humans and wading pools go together like peanut butter and jelly. I’m sure my father (WW II Combat Veteran) would say let them.
Bill Farrar Jr (Desert Storm Veteran)
If it was a wading pool fine but it’s NOT it’s a reflecting pool that has signs saying NO wading . I still think electrifying is a good idea .
I am continually amazed at people who escalate these type of issues to the point of anger, name calling, condemnation and generalizations addressed to…. who knows… There is a simple truth being ignored… When anyone knowingly shows disrespect to the sacrifices of others, it is they who have exposed their lack of compassion and understanding. My guess… most of these people do not have a clue about the reasons for this pool, which is clearly designed to be approached and may easily be entered. Many among us have not been taught to respect authority or to show respect to those places and things that others hold as sacred. This issue does not just apply to a few tourists that have no attachment to the reasons for a memorial to brave men and women who gave their lives to preserve our freedoms, it must also be applied to the disrespect that people show towards the cultural practices and beliefs of their fellow citizens. It must be addressed to the disrespect that many adults expose their children to each day when they listen to their favorite propaganda network and parrot the over spun and often fabricated partisan garbage directed at the President of their country or at their neighbors whom view the world with different eyes. Respect must be earned. Manners, social skills, virtues and kindness must be taught and they must be shown by example. This issue of people wading into the reflection pool around the war memorial is not new… It is ongoing and on any day during the warmer weather unconcerned people will be found walking in it. They have not been taught to respect the sacredness of this monument and it is likely that this misuse of sacred ground will only be curved by either the presence of a custodian or limiting the access to the pool by a fence. In either case, there will be those who simply choose to ignore the laws. This flaw… disrespect… is deeply ingrained in our culture. The behavior of adults will be reflected in the actions of their children. If one constantly disrespects others, that will become the nature of their children as well. It is time to stop the hatred and disrespect that is in epidemic proportions in our society. Just think for a moment about the polarization of our voters into two partisan groups that show nothing but disrespect for each other and refuse to allow the elected party its opportunity to govern without continual opposition. This country is in a constant state of disrespect, so why would anyone wonder about why people do not have concern for this Memorial or for that matter any other. It’s time for us all to bring ourselves to a reckoning and work to change the way we view the world as well as to learn compassion and kindness.
Those of us that were just old enough, (elementary school) to see the wages of this war with the Blue & Gold stars in the neighbors windows, the rationing of every commodity, the need to recycle anything that could be converted to materials for War, the news of the war efforts on the radio & the valiant efforts of Bob Hope et al with the USO to cheer & entertain the troops, are those that can relate to the term “world War” as it did indeed involve us all.
My dad served in the Army during WW11 , my husband served in the VT National Guard for seven years, and my son served for 23 years in the Air Force. Each time he was deployed overseas, I prayed he would return home safely. To see these pictures, it’s sad to see the disrespect the parents are teaching their children. The only way to prevent it would be to have someone there to enforce what the sign clearly states that people should not be doing.
In the immortal words of Forrest Gump’ mother ” Stupid is as stupid does !!! “
I gasped when I saw this….I chaperoned two 8th grade trips and 3 honor flights. 10 yrs ago a kid was practicing his skateboard moves near the wall of stars. I joke that I and a Marine got to him at the same time and the marine backed off. This is just shameful. Thanks for publishing.
Speaking as a military officer on active duty as well as having several family members apart of the greatest generation that fought in WWII and in one case, KIA Aug of 44 and rests in Holland, this is a little too much. I have had the opportunity to visit the memorial three times. On the last occasion it was a very hot summer day in DC and being able to take off my shoes and socks, sit down and cool off by putting my feet in the water and sit on the side was a blessing. A blessing that the men and women who fought and died in that war would have enjoyed. I sat there and had the ability to truly enjoy my surroundings in the memorial rather than fight to find the nearest building to cool off in. I was able to experience the magnitude that is that war memorial and to think about each one of those golden stars that is there. Now wading crosses a boundary, but the memorial was actually designed for people to be able to sit and enjoy the water, as well as having park rangers to enforce those rules which they certainly were that day. I think we have greater issues at hand in this country then to worry about some POGs splashing a little but of water in DC.
~…Mister Ben, you are a true true HERO…and the souls of each and every other resting soldier is smiling with you…!!!…when we get lost in the moment and begin to “wade” away, that is often why wars begin and battles lost…~…echoes of respect & admiration to you, gentle sir…~
~…pZZZZZt!…~ our dad, Mister Ben, was a Marine at Okinawa on the largest Amphibious assault…the “Typhoon of Steel”…and he is sitting next to you with an occasional splash & cheer of delight. ~…echoes of freedom…~
This is for Dot who questions the design. Why the HELL should we question the design? So when someone attempts to development a memorial to honor a group of people who all gave some portion of their life in defense of this nation, they have to alter it because of people with no respect!!! Talk about about serving to the lowest common denominator, and that isn’t what those people stood for, nor should their monument. Based on your case you made you should rethink that statement…. it offends me! Actually no you dont, you are free to think and say what you want, just not free from others reactions to them. However those who dishonor the memorial should not be free from punishment for disregarding the posted direction.
This disrespect is upsetting to me too. My Father gave the ultimate sacrifice , HIS LIFE , in WW2. It cost me my Father at the age of 2 mos. He was only 23 yrs. old. Our veterans, both living and deceased deserve our appreciation and respect. The WW2 Memorial should be revered. There is no excuse to disrespect a Memorial and the men and women it is dedicated to. Shame, Shame, Shame.
There needs to be some form of security to oversee that the Memorial is not desecrated in any way.
The signs are good, but evidently useless. Where are the custodians of this memorial? I might add that like a hnadicapped sign, Fines in EXACT MONEY should be posted like in the #250.00 each person! Stick to it and grow some revenue to help maintain them, eventually they will stop.
My husband and I visited this memorial a couple of years ago, and were just as concerned as you about the disrespect. At that time we witnessed something even more upsetting. A woman in the crowd made a comment to a couple who were splashing in the water with their children. She wasn’t being disrespectful to them, but simply pointed out the signs surrounding the pool. However, the adults in the water began screaming at her and telling her it was none of her business what they did. A nearby security guard had to intervene before things got too out of hand. The whole scene really put a damper on our visit that day.
Where were the DC Park Police/Rangers?
My grandfather was a WWII fighter pilot, who later worked in DC for many years before retiring from the air force. My grandparents lived in DC for many years. I visited them nearly every year while I was growing up. They loved DC, its monuments, and were both very humble about their service to our country.
My family gave money to the building of that memorial in honor of our grandfather. Our tax dollars go to maintain those monuments. Why does anyone think it’s okay for them to disobey the signs? As I child, I had great respect and reverence for our Nation’s Capitol and am appalled at this photo. While sharing it on social media may help identify the family, what will be done? I think anyone caught disrespecting a national monument should pay a fine and have to serve community service.
Just because other people were participating,doesn’t make it right. I am at a loss for words. I am more than disappointed to know that this happens on a regular basis. I agree that if that’s the case, then more should be done to keep decorum at our nation’s monuments.
While I feel this behavior is completely wrong and would never even consider this or allow my children to do so, I do take a bit of offense to all the remarks about how “they” meaning my generation are to blame for horrible behavior. Yes some, feel very entitled and are disrespectful. But not all. And for those that are entitled, which generation do you all feel taught them to be that way? Their parents, maybe?
Where are the Park Police? They can issue fines.
When did Americans become so hidebound? Most of the complainers here cite the heroism of some family member who gave service, and assume that a bunch of Americans seeking relief from the punishing D.C. heat are somehow being disrespectful. Odds are, those heroes would have been frolicking with them. The signs are hidebound … some bureaucrats idea of what is proper. They are signs of control by government, not people. The soldiers these folks refer to would likely have been skinneydipping here on a hot day. Respect them by enjoying the life they fight to preserve, and grow up, for America’s sake.
For all of you people who are bashing the current generation, please keep this in mind, This generation that you are bashing also includes the men and women who are serving in our Armed Forces. Do not bash an entire generation because of the actions of a few, That is discrimination on a vast scale and the current generation does not deserve it. I am more ashamed of you than I am the people getting their feet wet.
Using the excuse that this generation is fighting this current war is both spurious and specious at best. The WW2 Greatest Generation accomplished victory over tyranny in four years. The baby boomers lost Vietnam and your current generation had had their posteriors handed to them by hygiene challenged goat and sheep fornicators for the last fourteen years.