WWII Vets Get Memorial

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It's been more than half a century since the end of World War II. And finally, those veterans have their own memorial in the nation’s capital.

The official dedication of the WWII Monument will be next month, but it opened to visitors for the first time on Thursday. We talked with some local veterans who say they're happy about seeing it become reality. And they all agree on one thing: it's about time.

The new memorial to WWII veterans spans the length of a football field on the National Mall in Washington, D. D. The granite and bronze monument features waterfalls, fountains and a curved wall with gold stars to represent the 400,000 Americans who gave their lives during the war.

Jim Kenney, age 82, served in the South Pacific during WWII. "I was in the Marine Raiders under Col. Jim Roosevelt, which was President Roosevelt's son." The Colorado Springs resident was hit in the leg by a mortar shell and received a Purple Heart.

He says it's a great thing that military members from his era finally have their own memorial. "They've got other places memorializing different wars. It's about time World War II veterans had something, too."

But Kenney says it's a shame that it's taken so long. It's estimated that WWII vets are dying at a rate of more than 1,000 a day. "That's the bad part about waiting so long---some of them will never see it."

Just the same, Kenney says he's already proud of the monument and hopes to see it. "I'm retired now. Someday I just might get in my car and go back there."

The monument will be dedicated on Memorial Day weekend. Project organizers raced to finish it so the dwindling number of veterans could see it. Fewer than 4 million will be alive when it's dedicated.