A new World War I memorial opened to the public on Saturday in Washington, DC, a day after a consecration ceremony that included a military overflight that found some of them in the capital.
The 1914-1918 Great War Memorial honors the 4.7 million who served in the fighting and the 116,516 Americans who died in the conflict.
“In a sense, the Great War has shifted America’s thinking about itself and redefined our place in the world,” President Biden said in recorded remarks played during Friday’s dedication ceremony. “We fought for what we stood for, for which we were ready to fight and die and defend, the principles of freedom and democracy.”
“Let’s remember everything that was sacrificed, everything that was illuminated by the proud brave Americans who served in the First World War,” Biden added. “More than 100 years have passed, but the legacy and courage of those Doughboys who sailed the war and the values they fought for still live on in our nation today.”
The memorial was built in Pershing Park near the White House, which is already a tribute to General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing, commander of American forces during the war.
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During Friday’s online ceremony, two F-22 Raptors flew over the area at about 11 a.m., with the loud roar of planes briefly interrupting a White House news briefing led by spokesman Jen Psaki and a welcoming ceremony at Eisenhower’s executive office building. for the Japanese Visiting Prime Minister, led by Vice President Kamala Harris.
“Wow! There’s a plane just above my head,” Psaki told reporters.
Harris briefly stopped his remarks to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga as the planes passed, a video shows.
Plans for the memorial came to fruition in December 2014, when then-President Barack Obama signed legislation authorizing the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission to create a tribute.
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Friday’s ceremony in the park includes the raising of an American flag flying over the Capitol on April 6, 2017, the 100th anniversary of the day the United States entered the war, the last of the nation’s four major battles to be commemorated. in Washington.
The memorial has fountains and sculptures.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.