Located in Arlington Ridge Park, the United States Marine Corps War Memorial was designed as one of three monuments intended for the dramatic hilltop site. It is situated on the northern part of the park, with the Netherlands Carillion further south and the unrealized Freedom Shrine positioned as a new western terminus for the National Mall. The iconic statue at the center of the memorial was created by Felix de Weldon and modeled after the photo shot by Joseph J. Rosenthal on February 23, 1945, as the United States flag was raised over Mount Suribachi on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima.
The Marine Corps War Memorial Foundation hired Horace Peaslee to design the site in 1953-1954, including a reviewing stand, parade ground, pedestrian paths, vehicular roads, and parking. Peaslee’s design orients the memorial facing south, with the approach off-axis from the east and an enclosing berm at the western edge. Markley Stevenson’s simplified planting design used a palette of large shade and evergreen trees, with yew and osmanthus hedges defining the plaza around the statue. John J. Earley Studios developed a special exposed aggregate concrete for the plaza, the reviewing stand, and their related features.
The memorial was dedicated on November 10, 1954, the 179th anniversary of the founding of the Marine Corps.