World War II folklore? A D.C. urban myth?
Does Kilroy really exist on the WWII Memorial in the National Mall?
I can undoubtedly assure you that he is there, because I found him! After walking all over the memorial in the brilliant June sun, I spotted the little fella peeking over his wall, just waiting to be discovered.
Who or What is Kilroy?
While Kilroy may sound like a dangerous and stealthy assassin, in all reality, he is a harmless, big-nosed cartoon.
With his bald head and prominent nose peeking over a wall, Kilroy stumped and fascinated the droves of people who came across him.
This cute little guy was once graffiti-ed all throughout Europe, typically accompanied by the words ‘Kilroy was here’.
During WWII, American GIs scratched and scrawled this cool little dude in places that they were stationed and encamped. It wasn’t uncommon to see him stateside or on American ships either. Stalin even found the graffito in a VIP bathroom at the Potsdam Conference in 1945.
To see Kilroy meant that Allied/American forces were or had been near, which I’m sure was a comfort to many.
How to Find Him
Since Kilroy was such a notable part of war, it’s not surprising that he was included in Friedrich St. Florian’s design of the WWII Memorial at the National Mall.
While planning a trip to Washington D.C., I came across a picture of Kilroy on Pinterest. There was no article or explanation, just a pin that stated that the infamous Kilroy graffiti was part of the monument and that it would be fun for the kids to try to find it while there.
When we got to the WWII Memorial during our trip, I knew I didn’t want to miss it! I walked all over the monument before finally found him, but it gave me a chance to really appreciate the whole memorial, get some good pictures, and meet the baby ducks in the reflecting pool.
But in case you don’t want to walk all over creation to find what may be the earliest American meme, let me give you some directions.
- First, find the pillar for the state of Pennsylvania. It’s on the west side of the memorial (closest to the reflecting pool/Lincoln Memorial).
- Go to the back side of the pillar (the side opposite of the fountains in the middle of the monument).
- When you get to the back of the pillar look to your right. There will be a gate that blocks you from entering what I assume is a maintenance area. At the bottom right of the back wall is Kilroy!
If you’re ever at the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C, don’t leave until you find Kilroy. He’s a quirky, yet significant, addition to the beautiful memorial to the Americans lost in WWII.
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