Kilroy Was Here

An inscription of a man with a long nose peering over a wall with the words
The popular American graffiti seen overseas throughout World War II.

NPS Photo

Quick Facts
World War II Memorial

Historical/Interpretive Information/Exhibits

“Kilroy was here”, accompanied by a cartoon drawing of a man looking over a wall, was a popular piece of graffiti drawn by American troops in the Atlantic Theater and then later in the Pacific Theater. It came to be a universal sign that American soldiers had come through an area and left their mark. Eventually, during the war, Kilroy became so popular that this graffiti could be found everywhere. On ship holds, bathrooms, bridges and painted on the shells of Air Force missiles. Its origins most likely come from a British cartoon and the name of an American shipyard inspector. The myths surrounding it are numerous and often center on a German belief that Kilroy was some kind of superspy who could go anywhere he pleased. There are two Kilroy inscriptions hidden in the memorial tucked in the corners of both the Atlantic and Pacific sides of the memorial.

Can you find them?


National Mall and Memorial Parks , World War II Memorial

Last updated: April 11, 2021