4th Piece of the Puzzle

In this activity, continue working on your final project.

Select an image or video file that is related to your final project idea. Post it in your blog and answer the following questions: Why did you choose this image/video? Why might it be difficult for students or other audiences to analyze this source?

“Enlistment,” South Balustrade (Pacific Front), WWII Memorial Bas-Relief Sculpture Panel

For my project, I want to utilize photos of the Bas-Relief Sculpture Panel along the ceremonial entrance walls of World War II Memorial. The panel above, “Enlistment,” is the second panel of the South Balustrade, which illustrates a timeline of the Pacific theater of World War II. For my project, which will be a “Choose Your Own Adventure” game(?), one of the first questions I plan to ask will is this: Do you enlist in the military, or do you wait to be drafted? This panel gives the impression that men volunteered for the military in droves in response to Pearl Harbor. In actuality, the majority (61.2 percent) of the millions serving were draftees. However, this fact somewhat contradicts with the narrative of the “Greatest Generation,” who–in simplest terms–put everything on hold and their lives on the line for their country. Knowing this fact now, would you judge someone for not enlisting? Why do we think of most WWII soldiers as enlistees? (Could this bas-relief panel be affecting our ideas of what a WWII soldier is?)

It is a bit hard to analyze this source, since these sculptures are forced to sacrifice text for a wholly visual, streamlined message. I imagine people would ask if it’s fair to project all these assumptions onto this panel. After all, it is at the World War II Memorial, which has a clear purpose on the National Mall and in our national history and memory. Even part of me is swept up in a wave of patriotism when I look at these sculptures. However, a critical eye doesn’t have to detract from the art or from its purpose.