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Visiting the WWII Memorial This Veterans Day? There's an App for That

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
World War II vets George Nettle, left, and Don Riggs, get familiar with the new World War II Memorial app with help from Mattie Melnyk, far right, Greta Jelen and Zola Bzdek, center. The 8th graders from Alice Deal Middle School in Tenleytown were on hand to give a demonstration to the Honor Flight veterans from Missouri at the memorial.

President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11, 1919, as the first commemoration of Armistice Day for reflections “filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory.”

Now, 94 years later, Armistice Day has become Veterans Day, and visitors to the National Mall’s World War II Memorial can pursue those reflections on the screens of their smartphones.

The “WWII Memorial” app enables users to explore the history behind the memorial, opened in 2004, and the 16 million Americans it honors. It features a timeline of congressional authorization, presidential approval and construction of the memorial, an interactive map of the 7.4-acre site and facts about the design and materials.

For instance: Did you know the memorial features 24 bas reliefs, 56 granite pillars and 112 wreaths?

The app, available for free download through iTunes and Google Play, also gives a historical play-by-play of the “Path to Victory” and highlights the stories of individual veterans who served in the Atlantic, the Pacific or the homefront — including a tale from a native of each state and territory.

Click the District of Columbia, for instance, and you will read about Juanita E. Gray, a black woman who left her job as a housekeeper to seek factory work as a civilian during the war effort.

“Juanita found a job through the National Youth Administration (NYA), which employed young Americans in defense industries during the war,” the app informs users.

Launched by the Trust for the National Mall, a nonprofit partner of the National Park Service, it is the organization’s first try at monument-specific smartphone and tablet technology. Plans are under way to develop mobile apps to complement other monuments on the Mall.

“Initiatives like this will help to educate a whole new generation about the National Mall and what it stands for,” Bob Vogel, superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks, said in a statement. “We know that young people are interacting with the world in new ways and that the National Park Service needs to keep up if we are to remain relevant. This app will help us do that.”

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