National World War II Memorial Bas-Relief Panels

  A series of bas-relief sculpture panels created by sculptor Ray Kaskey is set into the balustrades of the north and south ceremonial entrance walls. The bas-reliefs consist of 24 separate panels. The 12 on the north depict the Atlantic front; the 12 on the south depict the Pacific front.

The unifying theme of the panels is the transformation of America caused by the country’s total immersion in World War II. The panels depict the all-out mobilization of America’s agricultural, industrial, military, and human resources that transformed the country into the arsenal of democracy as well as the breadbasket of the world.

The visual inspiration for these panels is the bas-relief sculptures that encircle the Pension Building in Washington, D.C., which were influenced by the bas-reliefs on the Parthenon. What these bas-reliefs have in common is that all are isocephalic, a Greek word meaning that the heads of the principal figures line up horizontally. The human scale is the visual unifying element common to all 24 panels; all details, scenes, equipment, etc. are subordinated to the scale of the figure. The unity of purpose unique to this time in America is best evoked by placing the visual emphasis on the individual in this time-honored manner. Most of the panels are based on historical photos.

Atlantic Front Panels Pacific Front Panels
Lend Lease Pearl Harbor
Bond Drive Enlistment
Women in Military Embarkation
Rosie the Riveter/Aircraft Construction Shipbuilding
Battle of the Atlantic Agriculture
Air War/B-17 Submarine Warfare
Paratroopers Navy in Action
Normandy Beach Landing Amphibious Landing
Tanks in Combat Jungle Warfare
Medics in Field Field Burial
Battle of the Bulge Liberation
Russians meet Americans at the Elbe. V-J Day