Concept Paper/Proposal

THE WORLD WAR II VIRTUAL MONUMENT

Submitted to The World War II Memorial Committee

By Patrick O'Donnell 8/98

A World War II Virtual Memorial or Monument is the natural compliment to the stone memorial that will be constructed by the American Battle Monuments Commission. As an on-line "Living Monument" it will capture and preserve the testimonies, oral histories, and photos of America’s World War II veterans before they are lost to the ages.

Email accounts, oral histories and photos that will make up the WWII Virtual Monument will enable veterans themselves to change the focus of history away from stale campaign accounts and put history back in the hands of the participants– in their own words.

The monument should establish an email-based reunion to allow veterans to awaken long forgotten memories thereby creating a Virtual Community of veterans. By leveraging the power of the Internet, the WWII Virtual Monument will be able to bridge the gap between today’s generation and America’s finest generation. The World War II Virtual Memorial will provide the ultimate on-line mosaic of the World War II experience by weaving an organized format of personal accounts and photos. Stories and photos that are on the WWII Virtual Memorial should be categorized by campaign and unit so the viewer can

This effort would be an integral aspect of the proposed WWII Monument and would be accessible via the World Wide Web and through Kiosk machines located within the grounds of Monument. Visitors at the WWII Monument will not only be able to view a stone monument but also gain an understanding of what happened during WWII from the voices of the veterans themselves.

The educational aspects of the World War II Virtual Memorial are unlimited. The WWII Virtual Memorial would be an interactive teaching tool used by schools around the country and world. Lesson plans could be integrated into the site enabling students to gain a better understanding of the war and the men who fought it. Email could allow students the ability to interact directly with the participants.

Gathering content for the Virtual Monument should be facilitated by historians, veterans and volunteers. The effort would be proactive and fieldwork should be conducted by attending veteran’s reunions and capturing the stories first hand through a variety of media. The Virtual Monument should not be just an unorganized dump of email remembrances. Some effort should also be made to verify the content. No effort should be made to link the content with a financial contribution.

A proven concept

Many of these concepts are already in use in the Drop Zone Virtual Museum On-Line Oral History Project located on the World Wide Web at http://www.thedropzone.org. The Drop Zone is one of the first on-line oral history projects on the Internet. Using the same proven techniques perfected with the Drop Zone this effort could be replicated and incorporated on a much broader scope to include the testimonies, photos and oral histories of all WWII American service man.