Tribute to a Generation

Haydn Williams and the Building of the World War II Memorial

  • Format:
  • Pages:
  • Illustrations:
    20 b/w illustrations
  • Published:
    November 15, 2020
  • ISBN-10:
  • ISBN-13:
  • Product Dimensions:
    9 × 6 × 1 in
  • Product Weight:
    18 oz
Hardcover $38.95
Member Price $31.16 Save 20%
Book: Cover Type


This book would not be possible without the generous support and symbiotic partnership with the Friends of the National World War II Memorial, whose dedicated work of preserving the legacy of those who served in the world's greatest conflict ensures that their sacrifices will be forever remembered and revered.


Tribute to a Generation highlights the unappreciated yet pivotal role Ambassador F. Haydn Williams played in making the World War II Memorial in Washington what it is today. As a naval officer sent into Japan to repatriate Maj. Pappy Boyington and other POWs at the end of World War II, Williams became a rising star in the Eisenhower and Kennedy Administrations.  He worked on behalf of the CIA to start a trans-Pacific think-tank, transforming it to a non-profit leader in Asian affairs, and served as an ambassador appointed to negotiate the status of Micronesia. Williams saw the recognition of the Greatest Generation as a final mission in life and leaned on a good friend, former Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Bill Crowe, to get an appointment to the American Battle Monuments Commission.

Diplomat and taskmaster, Williams assembled a talented small group to select the site, complete the design, and work with award-winning architect Friedrich St. Florian and sculptor Ray Kaskey with the aid of such luminaries as Senator Bob Dole, FedEx Chair Fred Smith and actor Tom Hanks to overcome strong opposition to completing the memorial.   

About the Author

Editorial Reviews

“David Winkler's Tribute to a Generation lucidly demonstrates how an individual patriot of vision and steely determination enabled honor to be rendered to a generation.” —VADM J.A. Baldwin, U.S. Navy (Ret.), former President of the Naval War College and the National Defense University
“David Winkler’s Tribute to a Generation accomplishes two major goals. First, it chronicles the complex of actions which go into building a major memorial on the National Mall. This required years of effort during which all commissions involved in this significant event met to approve (or disapprove) recommendations for the shape and content of the Memorial. Second, the book highlights the critical role in this effort played by Ambassador F. Haydn Williams, Chairman of the Site and Design Committee (SDC) formed by the American Battle Commission, to oversee taking the Memorial from concept to reality. All members of the SDC consider Ambassador Williams to be the 'Father of the WWII Memorial'. He devoted years of his life to this task, traveling repeatedly from his home in San Francisco to chair or attend meetings. With diplomacy, total knowledge of the project, and a passionate commitment to excellence, he and the architectural team built the Memorial we see and revere today.” —Brig. Gen. Evelyn “Pat" Foote, USA (Ret.)
“The United States’ effort to build a fitting World War II Memorial was long overdue, contentious and difficult. Since 2004, however, the homage by tens of millions of visitors to those honored and remembered there shows it was a worthwhile cause indeed.” —Frederick W. Smith, Chairman and CEO, FedEx Corporation
“This book, by David Winkler, provides important insight into what it took to create the National World War II Memorial. It focuses primarily on the process of finding a site and then developing a design for the Memorial. Written in narrative style, it also tells the story of how one person, dedicated to a mission and with a vision to implement it, made a huge difference in the success of the project. His name was F. Haydn Williams, retired Ambassador and former President of the Asia Foundation in San Francisco. Williams told me early on that he was going to make the World War II Memorial the final priority of his life, his 'last hurrah,' so-to-speak. He never wavered. He got it done. Haydn Williams always believed that his most important contribution to the project was the selection of the site. Winkler’s analysis bears that out. And, as J. Carter Brown, President of the Commission of Fine Arts would predict—from the selection of the site, the design would flow. This is an inciteful portrayal of how the World War II Memorial went from concept, to legislation, to site, design and then, finally, to the construction of the magnificent Tribute to a Generation that it now is.” —Rolland Kidder, Former Commissioner of the American Battle Monuments Commission, Member of its World War II Memorial Site and Design Committee
“There were many people who were part of our seventeen year journey to complete the national World War II Memorial. As the time came to bring together the best people to determine the location and design of the Memorial, Ambassador F. Haydn Williams was one of those key players as we sought to recognize the men and women of 'the greatest generation' whose sacrifice in wartime saved liberty from tyranny and whose perseverance in peacetime helped to build the United States of America.” —Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, U.S. Representative for Ohio’s 9th Congressional District
“In David Winkler’s, Tribute to a Generation, Ambassador Haydn Williams has earned a worthy recognition, not only for the inspiration whose realization represents a permanent testimonial to a generation of Americans who made the supreme sacrifices in their country’s greatest war, but, to a steadfast citizenry and the leaders who sustained and led them in this the country’s noblest enterprise in our history. Our indebtedness to Dr. Winkler for this work is very much of the character of the nation’s indebtedness to Haydn Williams and all members of the ‘Greatest Generation’.” —Josiah Bunting III, Chairman, Friends of the National World War II Memorial