The World War I Centennial Commission officially raised the flag at the new National World War I Memorial in Washington, D.C., with a unique salute to the early days of air power.
During the April 16 ceremony, two F-22s from the 94th Fighter Squadron at Joint Base Langley, Va., performed a flyover of the memorial site. The 94th Fighter Squadron dates back to the famed “Hat-in-the-Ring” 94th Aero Squadron, which was designated as an independent unit under the VIII French Army and deployed to France in 1918 as part of the allied war effort.
The National World War I Memorial, the nation’s newest national memorial, dates back to the 2014 creation of the World War I Centennial Commission, which was tasked for creating a public space to remember the lives lost in the great war. The commission worked with the National Park Service, the American Battle Monuments Commission, and the Doughboy Foundation to create the space.
“The great war touched every American family at the time,” President Joe Biden said in recorded remarks for the ceremony. “For too long, that nation-wide service has not been fully commemorated here in the nation’s capital. This memorial finally will offer a chance for people to visit and reflect and remember. More than 100 years have passed since World War I ended, but the legacy and courage of those doughboys sailing off to war and the values that they fought to defend still live in our nation today.”
The commission in 2015 launched an open competition to redevelop Pershing Park in Washington, D.C., for the memorial. The winner was picked out of 350 entries, and involves new elements including a sculpture of soldiers, lines from the poem “The Young Dead Soldiers Do Not Speak” by Archibald Macleish, a belvedere with references to major campaigns, and quotes from President Woodrow Wilson, from Willa Cather’s novel “One of Us,” and from Alta May Andrews of the Army Nurse Corps.
“The National World War I memorial is a testament to the strength of the American people and honors the bravery and sacrifice our warriors made in the great war,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley said as part of the ceremony.