More Than A Century Later, The U.S. Still Doesn’t Have A National World War I Memorial In Washington
By Tom Russo
via the Bisnow web site
As the 100th anniversary of the Treaty of Versailles approaches this Friday — a pact that effectively ended “the war to end all wars” — the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission in Washington will watch another centurial commemoration march by.
Five years ago, it was one century since World War I broke out in Europe. Last year, it was the centennial of the creation of Armistice Day. The new target date is Nov. 11, 2021, which will mark 100 years since the interment for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a World War I veteran, at Arlington National Cemetery.
All of those centenaries were targeted by the commission for one purpose: to erect America’s first-ever national monument to all 116,708 Americans who fought and died in Europe’s first total war. But more than a century after the war, construction has not yet begun.
“In the best of all worlds, we would dedicate this in November 2021,” said Edwin Fountain, vice chairman of the Centennial Commission.
The prolonged effort to erect a memorial to the men who died in trenches and on battlefields in places like Somme, Belleau Wood and Gallipoli goes back decades, and has been hampered by politics, complicated legislative efforts, a meandering site-selection process, a cumbersome design review and disagreements on what the memorial’s mission ought to be.
The memorial, called "A Soldier’s Journey," was designed by Joe Weishaar and is being sculpted by Sabin Howard. It will stand nearly 60 feet long on 1.8 acres in Pershing Park, on Pennsylvania Avenue between 14th and 15th streets NW. The memorial will sit a block away from the White House with a direct view of the U.S. Capitol building. The estimated total cost is $40M.
“We’ve had targets, and you set targets ambitiously to keep people focused,” Fountain said. “But the project takes as long as the project takes. We have a goal. We have an aspiration.”