The District of Columbia’s World War I Memorial is the only memorial on the National Mall that’s dedicated solely to D.C. residents.
Now a controversial effort is under way on Capitol Hill to convert it into a national monument.
The memorial on Independence Avenue SW, west of 17th Street near the Tidal Basin, was dedicated in 1931 to salute the 26,000 Washingtonians who fought in World War I. But Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) is sponsoring a bill that would turn it into a national monument to the Great War.
Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and local veterans joined forces at a news conference Monday to denounce the move.
“We’re serving notice today that we will not tolerate dishonoring those who gave their lives for our country and paid the very highest price. The District of Columbia memorial belongs to the people of the District of Columbia,” Norton said.
She described it as another attack "on D.C.'s integrity as a jurisdiction."
"No one is going to go to Nebraska or Wyoming or Delaware or any other state and say let's nationalize your memorial," Mayor Gray said. "We deserve the same respect."
Norton said she is not against a national World War I memorial in the nation's capital, she just does not want it to replace the existing one.
Congress allocated $7.3 million in stimulus funds to restore the monument. Those renovations were completed in November.