The design is the result of a 20-month collaborative effort between the National Desert Storm and Desert Shield War Memorial Board of Directors, numerous veterans of the war, CSO Architects, Inc., Context Landscape Architecture, and other citizen contributors who were affected by the war.
The National Desert Storm and Desert Shield Veterans War Memorial has been designed as an elegantly curved, massive, Kuwaiti limestone wall, which both encloses and envelopes a sacred, somber, inner memorial space.
The curved wall serves many functional and symbolic purposes: It shields visitors and the “memorial experience” both visually and acoustically from the noisy, urban surroundings of downtown Washington, DC; the massive earth-toned limestone wall and floor of the memorial recall in form and color the sands of the Kuwaiti desert; and the curved wall, which sweeps an arc in the north and east directions, recalls the “left hook” maneuver that helped to bring the war to a timely conclusion and to minimize the loss of life in Coalition Forces.
Upon entering the confines of the Memorial wall, visitors follow a 150-foot continuous bas-relief, which is carved into the interior surface of the wall. It displays the flags and the fallen from each of the 34 nations in the coalition, the Desert Storm and Desert Shield Campaign Ribbons, and the continuous historical chronology of the war’s events. The carving describes in pictographic, sculptural form all of the main historical events leading up to and including the war, as well as the lasting after-effects of the war on veterans.
As visitors continue past the war chronology’s bas-relief, they reach the “inner sanctum” of the memorial: The portion of the Memorial wall on which the names of the 383 U.S. servicemen and women, who sacrificed their lives in the conflict, would be engraved beneath the heading, “Here We Mark the Price of Freedom.” Visitors could easily view, touch, photograph or create etchings of the names of the soldiers, sailors, airmen and women who lost their lives in the service of our country.
After visitors have viewed the engraved names of the fallen, they turn to view the statue of soldiers directly behind them. The bronze statues are startlingly lifelike renditions of five U.S. servicemen and women wearing gas masks and chemical warfare protective gear. The solid bronze statues are on the same level with visitors so that they may experience the statues more intimately, almost as though they were there in person.
Upon exiting the Memorial, visitors encounter a healing quotation.