The design for the Colorado Freedom Memorial is derived through a series of symbolic and representative metaphors that are intended to create a dynamic and meaningful experience for the visitor. The Memorial begins with a long sweeping approach that gives observers their initial view of the wall, a tectonic appearance that is an abstract representation of the Rocky Mountains. The mountains’ jagged profile may very well have been the last image of Colorado many of these fallen service men and women remembered.
When observers approach the end of the path, they enter into a large circle that is symbolic of the world as a whole. As visitors walk along the perimeter of the circle and approach the Memorial wall, a fissure in the ground opens up and begins to descend toward the wall, which is inscribed with the names of the fallen. This fissure is intended to denote the divide in the world that is created when our country is at war. The wall itself then arises from the fissure, its geometry derived from a simple concept that maps point A “Colorado” to point B “Place of War.” Through this mapping concept, a series of “lines in the sand” is assembled to create a contiguous line that becomes the point of beginning for the wall.
While the onlooker moves down the path, the wall begins to fold forward and backward, creating a sense of instability. This is designed to translate the emotions and feelings of family members who lost their sons, daughters, husbands, wives, fathers and mothers when they decided to answer the call to serve their country.
As visitors approach the beginning of the wall, a small channel of water emerges out from the base of the Memorial. This small symbolic strip of water represents the oceans that their loved ones crossed to battle on behalf of their nation. This literal depiction of separation now allows family members to reach across the water and reunite with the names of those patriots.
Glass was chosen as the dominant material of the wall for its subtle, reflective qualities. The delicate nature of the glass speaks to the tragedy and loss that has occurred, while observers look through their own reflections to the names of the dead, making the true impact of the loss more measurable. To create a powerful moment of reunification, the names are all carefully and uniformly laid out in a very rigid format and accompanied by the image of the person left behind.
The path descends to its most intimate point where the wall folds forwards and earth surrounds visitors to give a feeling of a heavy burden weighing down on them. Here is the roster of the fallen from World War II, more than 3,600 of the Memorial’s 6,000 names. This represents Colorado’s deepest, darkest wartime history and our greatest loss as a state.While the observer begins to ascend from the low point of the Memorial, there is a break in the wall, a single section set back and removed from the adjacent panels. This is where the names of those missing in action are located, distinguished from the others by the uncertainty surrounding their fates. As observers proceed along the path, they are led back to the perimeter circular walk that allows them to turn and view the Memorial in its entirety once again. The tightly manicured lawn provides the opportunity for them to sit and reflect before departing. In the lawn, there is a series of small lines that dart across the surface of the grass to the edge of the walk, recalling the Memorial’s lines in the sand that led Americans to wage war when there were no other alternatives.