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Why does World War I still get second-rate treatment in our capital?

By Marc Ferris
via the Washington Post web site

When Congress and President Trump approved a bill potentially providing space on the Mall for a National Desert Storm War Memorial, they delivered a slap in the face to the brave Americans who fought in World War I.

PershingPeople walk past a statue of Gen. John J. Pershing, who had served as general of the Armies in World War I, in Pershing Park, at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, in Washington in 2015. (Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press)The Great War, so-called before the advent of World War II, is one of the nation’s many forgotten wars, evidenced by the fact that there is no national memorial to the conflict on the Mall. This disgrace helps consign the conflict to the cobwebs of memory.

Indeed, the 100th anniversary of the country’s declaration of war against Germany, on April 6, generated little fanfare. Participants in the war effort are deceased, of course, resulting in a lack of political pressure to find room on the Mall. Identifying a spot would be the right thing to do.

The existing World War I memorial on the Mall, built by D.C. dignitaries in 1931, honors only local service members, and few know of its existence. The modest marble structure is situated in a grove of trees 500 feet southwest of the massive National World War II Memorial (dedicated in 2004, 59 years after that war’s end).

The de facto national World War I monument in the District, Pershing Park , commemorates Gen. John J. Pershing, who vanquished the German foe. Christened in 1981, it sits in a zone designated as Area 1, outside the core section of the Mall, the grassy grounds that stretch from the Lincoln Memorial to the U.S. Capitol and from the White House to the Jefferson Memorial.

The Desert Storm memorial also will be in Area 1, but one approved site, a field at 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, is a much more prominent spot for a war memorial than Pershing Park, which is one long city block from the Mall proper.

In 2013, anticipating the 100th anniversary of American entry into World War I, Congress created the United States World War I Centennial Commission, which sponsored a design competition to reimagine the Pershing Park space.

The organization selected the winner in 2016, and the project is slated for completion by November 2018, the centennial of the war’s end. The goal, however, is contingent on the ability to raise $30 million to $35 million in private funds.

Read the whole article on the Washington Post web site here:

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