The World War II Memorial was authorized in 1995 by the Washington State Legislature. The memorial was dedicated on May 28, 1999, during a patriotic and emotional ceremony that drew a crowd of 5,000.
The design features a star-like cluster of five, 14-foot high bronze blades engraved with the names of nearly 6,000 Washington residents who lost their lives in WWII. The engraved names form silhouette images of military personnel and civilians. These blades are placed upon a granite world map.
The memorial also includes a cast-bronze wheat field with 4,000 individual stalks, symbolizing the service men and women who died in the war. Large rocks engraved with the significant battle names and events of the war surround the wheat field. The memorial also pays tribute to those who contributed during the war on the civilian home front, such as doctors, nurses, factory workers and others.
Nearly 3,000 commemorative granite tiles are permanently placed along the memorial's walkways, each with a unique message of gratitude or remembrance on behalf of a veteran, friend or loved one. A bronze plaque describes the major historical aspects of the war, while an amphitheater provides a place for educational gatherings and personal reflection.
The design is the work of artist and sculptor Simon Kogan, a Russian immigrant who now makes his home in Olympia. His design was chosen after an extensive statewide competition which drew more than 40 entries and solicited unprecedented public input.
Fund-raising efforts raised over $800,000 for the project, most of it from private contributions and municipalities, with $200,000 provided by the state legislature. The memorial is located near the General Administration building on the corner of Capitol Way and 11th Avenue.