In a wide-open plaza across from the Willard Hotel you’ll find Washington’s newest monument. The space, known for years as Pershing Square as a tribute to General John J. Pershing, leader of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) during World War I, has been expanded to be inclusive of all contributors to the United States effort during the Great War. 

While a small rotunda on the National Mall has commemorated Washington, D.C.’s involvement in World War I for more than 90 years, the capital city was lacking a national memorial for the conflict. After the debut of the World War II memorial in 2004, the push to create a similar tribute to the first World War heated up. At first, supporters wanted to transform the existing D.C.-centric memorial into a national one. But the bills that would do so didn’t make it through Congress, so instead in a Centennial Commission was created to mark the 100th anniversary of the United States’ involvement in the war, and ultimately Pershing Square was identified as the site of the future memorial.

To create the memorial, the commission opened up a global competition. The winning design came from sculptor Sabin Howard and architect Joseph Weishaar, who reimagined the original design of Pershing Square to represent all 4.7 million Americans who served in the war.

At the center of the park is a circular display, with informational plaques detailing America’s involvement in the war. On the ground is a medallion featuring the same Victory figured that was used on medals awarded to AEF members during the war.

In the southeast corner of the park, you’ll find a statue of General Pershing, who commanded the U.S. armed forces on the Western Front from 1918–1919. Maps of the battlefields on the Western Front and the Meuse-Argonne campaign are also etched in a stone wall next to the general.

The focal point of the park is a water feature, rectangular with a reflecting pool and falling water, which is anchored by the park’s signature—but unfinished—component. A large stone relief by Howard, A Soldier’s Journey, which depicts five stages of a soldier’s journey, from leaving home to scenes of battle to the return from war, will not be complete until 2024. In the meantime, a true-to-size illustration is shown so you can still get the effect.

The park is set a few feet below street level—this helps block out sounds from the surrounding streets and instead lets you focus on what’s here.