WASHINGTON -- Even for this city, which is accustomed to the
opening of major historical monuments, it will be one for the
On Memorial Day weekend, Washington joined President George W.
Bush in dedicating a new monument honoring the "Greatest
Generation," the men and women who served in World War II.
The National World War II Memorial's debut precedes by less than
a week the 60th anniversary of the pivotal D-Day offensive in
Normandy that led to, among other things, the liberation of France
"This is a huge, huge event for us, similar to a [presidential]
inauguration," William Hanbury, president and CEO of the Washington
DC Convention and Tourism Corp. (WDCCTC), said.
Hanbury said about 200,000 people typically attend Memorial Day
events on the National Mall each year. Last week, he was predicting
that the opening of the monument would draw "probably three times
"We are anticipating that Washington is going to get a big boost
this summer because of the memorial," he said.
The city began celebrating Memorial Day weekend on May 27. On
May 29, President Bush dedicated the monument, configured as two,
facing half-circles in the center of the National Mall between the
Capitol and the Washington Monument. It is located just steps from
the Korean Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Lincoln
Hanbury said he had a "huge weekend" planned, with a series of
events taking place all around the city.
But the city isn't stopping there.
"We are going to have 100 days of arts, culture and history
events around the Capitol region [through Sept. 7] that pay tribute
to the Greatest Generation," Hanbury said.
The event, "America Celebrates the Greatest Generation," will
encompass as many as 140 World War II-related events, according to
"Places like the Smithsonian, the Kennedy Center, the Library of
Congress and the National Archives are all doing programs that are
specific to the Greatest Generation theme," he said.
Additionally, local hotels are offering packages centering on
the World War II Memorial and related events. (See accompanying
The monument opened at a time when Washington's tourism industry
For instance, in April the city had one of its best months in
terms of hotel occupancy and visitation.
And although exact figures are not yet available, Hanbury
predicts April will go down as the best month ever for the city's
tourism industry. According to the WDCCTC, occupancy levels in
April were at 84%, compared with 75.2% in April 2003.
Although the city got a boost from the annual Cherry Blossom
Festival as well as from hosting several major conventions, Hanbury
said another factor is working in Washington's favor.
"The American public is traveling again," Hanbury said. "I think
there is some pent-up demand for Washington."
At the same time, Washington appears to be benefiting from a
renewed sense of patriotism in the country.
"We happen to be the stewards of many of these symbols and
institutions that best represent our freedom and democracy. People
are coming here to visit and see those things," Hanbury said.
Add that to the opening of the World War II monument and the
city could be poised to have one of its best summers ever.
"All of the interest around the National World War II Memorial
has been very positive for us," Hanbury said.
To contact reporter Michael Milligan, send e-mail to [email protected].
Plans with a patriotic theme
WASHINGTON -- The following is a sampling of Washington hotel
packages, valid to Sept. 7. Some are priced from $99.
• The Washington Terrace Hotel's Special Allied Package starts
at $139 and includes continental breakfast and transportation to
the World War II Memorial.
• The Hotel Helix's Greatest Generation package is priced at
$139 per night. Guests who stay two nights get the third night
• The Carlyle Suites Hotel's Summer Patriot room rates start at
$99 per room, per night, including breakfast for two.
• Savoy Suites Georgetown's Summer Patriot rate starts at $99
per room, per night.
• The Fairmont Washington DC's Patriot Package is priced from
$199 per night and includes a welcome gift, full American breakfast
and a sightseeing tour.
For more information on these and other packages, contact the
Washington DC Convention and Tourism Corp., (202) 789-7000.
Information is also available on the Web at www.washington.org/americacelebrates. --