About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for Tribute to a Generation

November 10, 2020

Greetings from the National Archives. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and it's my pleasure to welcome you to this virtual book talk with David F. Winkler about Tribute to a Generation: Haydn Williams and the Building of the WWII Memorial.

Before we hear from today’s author, I want to tell you about two online programs we will be presenting in commemoration of Veterans Day.

On Thursday, November 12, at 5 p.m., we will show the recently restored version of William Wyler’s World War II film Memphis Belle. Following the screening, NARA Supervisory Motion Picture Preservation Specialist Criss Austin will moderate a discussion with Catherine Wyler, film producer and daughter of William Wyler, and filmmaker Erik Nelson, who collaborated on the restoration and used the outtake footage in his 2018 documentary The Cold Blue.

And on Tuesday, November 17, at 7 p.m., we welcome Mary Beth Norton, who will talk about her new book, 1774: The Long Year of Revolution, which chronicles the revolutionary change that occurred in the American colonies between December 1773 to April 1775. Tom Putnam, director of the Concord Museum, will join Professor Norton in conversation.

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Tribute to a Generation highlights the pivotal role played by F. Haydn Williams in creating the National World War II Memorial on the Mall in Washington, DC. The memorial was first proposed in Congress in 1987, but it took 17 years before the completed memorial was dedicated in 2004.

F. Haydn Williams, a World War II naval officer and official in the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations, believed that the fast-disappearing “Greatest Generation” should have a memorial in the nation’s capital. Williams got himself appointed to the American Battle Monuments Commission, put together a hard-working team, and overcame opposition to see the project through to completion.

And in the National Archives you can find the official records of the American Battle Monuments Commission, which include design and architectural drawings, video and sound recordings, construction records, correspondence files, and more created by the National World War II Memorial.

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David F. Winkler, a retired Navy Reserve commander, earned his Ph.D. in 1998 from American University in Washington, DC. His dissertation Cold War at Sea: High Seas Confrontation between the U.S. and Soviet Union was published by the Naval Institute Press in 2000 and republished under the title Incidents at Sea: American Confrontation and Cooperation with Russia and China, 1945–2016  in 2017. He was selected in early 2019 to be the Class of 1957 Chair of Naval Heritage at the U.S. Naval Academy for the 2019–2020 academic year and the Charles Lindbergh Fellow at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum for the following year.

A historian with the nonprofit Naval Historical Foundation for over two decades, Winkler is the author of Amirs, Admirals, and Desert Sailors: The U.S. Navy, Bahrain, and the Gulf and Ready Then, Ready Now, Ready Always, a history of the U.S. Navy Reserve. In addition, he writes a monthly naval history column in the Navy League of the United States Sea Power magazine.

Now let’s hear from David F. Winkler. Thank you for joining us today.