Ground broken for long-awaited WWI memorial in DC
By Michael S. Darnell
via the Stars and Stripes web site
WASHINGTON — After years of false starts, unused plans and fundraising drives, the National World War I Memorial is finally on track.
Dignitaries including Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin helped to break ground on the long-awaited memorial to the “War to End all Wars" Thursday at Pershing Park.
“Here in Washington D.C. we are very fortunate to have access to many of the nation’s memorials, museums and monuments that tell our nation’s history,” Bowser said. “And we know that the World War I memorial will be a vital and long-awaited addition to this story.”
Plans for the recent memorial date back years. In 2013, the World War One Centennial Commission was formed, in part to oversee the design and construction of the memorial.
The site of the eventual monument was hotly debated, with some wanting it to reside on the National Mall, nearer the memorials to the Korean War, World War II and the Vietnam Wall. Those plans were changed and finalized in 2014, where the commission decided on Pershing Park, a small, often-overlooked area dedicated to the famous World War I general, John “Black Jack” Pershing.
In 2015, the commission held an international competition for the design of the eventual monument. A young student architect named Joe Weishaar, then only 25 years old, and sculptor Sabin Howard eventually won that competition.
Weishaar was on hand for the ceremony and spoke to the crowd. He said being a part of the monument that will rest in Pershing Park was the greatest honor of his life.
“It may be long overdue, but today marks another point in the journey of making sure they’re not forgotten,” Weishaar said of the long-dead veterans of World War I.
But memorials like this one aren’t for the dead. They’re for the living, reminders of conflicts that should never be forgotten, said one veteran with familial ties to World War I.
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