Finding Kilroy

I’m in Washington DC for business, but my real mission is to find Kilroy.

Kilroy was here.  While the origins are disputed, the Kilroy graffiti is associated with American soldiers in WWII.  On this trip to Washington DC, my son sent me on a mission to find Kilroy hidden in the World War II Memorial.

It’s 6:30 PM. I arrive in my hotel room and dedicate myself my mission — find Kilroy. And, what better way to do this than squeezing in a run before dark. While checking my phone’s weather app — 8:00 PM sunset with a 30% chance of rain, I unpack by dumping my clothes on the bed, change, and head out the door for my run.

I’ve been to DC before and blindly trust my instincts.  Run 4 blocks to the Mall, turn right, and find the WWII Memorial somewhere along the Mall.  What could be easier?

Heading out the door, I begin by turning left.  After several blocks I find the White House and am confused.  Instead of finding the Mall, I ran parallel to it.  So much for my excellent instincts. But that’s okay because I can see the Mall from the White House.  I make my course correction and run toward the Washington Monument.

Reaching the base of the Monument, the 30% chance of rain becomes 100% when the big drops appear on the sidewalk. It’s not a heavy rain and the locals are ignoring it (they continue to play Frisbee, soccer, and softball).  Taking their lead, I also ignore it and turn west hoping to find the WWII Memorial.

I follow the tree-lined path of Constitution Avenue until I find the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Somehow I missed the WWII Memorial, but I’m not disappointed since I’m steps away from the Lincoln Memorial.  Distracted from my mission, I stop for a quick visit. Unfortunately, the rain’s intensity is increasing.   Umbrellas are popping up.  Segway tourists appear wearing trash bag-like capes.

Turning around at the Lincoln Memorial, I head back along the Reflecting Pool when the deluge begins.  With the sound of rolling thunder, the heavy drops transform into a curtain of rain.  The tourists and locals disappear (even the Segways are gone).  I feel alone except for the few other foolish runners stranded outside.

With the downpour, Flashbacks of last year’s Rock and Roll Half Marathon come streaming back to my mind.  I am soaked, but I keep telling myself, “it’s not as bad as the half marathon.”  After all, this is a warm thundershower, not a cold rainstorm.

I debate sprinting back to the hotel or continuing with the mission when I stumble across the World War II Memorial hidden behind the Washington Monument.  I’m close.  Searching through the huge granite columns, each representing a state or territory, I come to the end of the row and a maintenance gate.

Then I see him.

I pull out my phone to take a picture only to find that touch screens don’t work with wet fingers.  I have no dry clothing to wipe my hands. Socks? Underwear?  Everything is wet.  After several failed attempts, I discover friction.  Vigorous hand rubbing creates just enough dryness to snap the photo.  Kilroy Was Here.

I fulfilled my mission in spite of getting lost, being distracted by other monuments, drenching rain, and wet fingers.



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2 Responses to Finding Kilroy

  1. Excellent job and pictures are superb. One thing though, there is no longer any doubt as to the origins if Kilroy. Kilroy was real. His name was James. I have been documenting his story for many years. Go to and see for yourself. I have many legends (Volume 1) but there is one for sure. Go to the Legends and Sightings which continue today in the Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan. Scroll further down for Kilroy produced videos including an interview with James Kilroy’s family. You will find all the answers to your questions about Kilroy.

  2. Pingback: Another Kilroy? | Riding Thru Bees

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