It is an oft-forgotten memorial to a war that happened so long ago there is just one living veteran in the entire United States.
The D.C. War Memorial
is the only city-centric monument on the National Mall
. It was dedicated in 1931 to the District residents who served in World War I. It lists the names of every local who died in the trenches, regardless of their race, class or gender – an inclusive gesture that was unique for its time.
Seventy-nine years later, the memorial stands forlorn, faded, cracked and neglected. The DC Preservation League has listed it as one of the “most endangered memorials” in Washington. That will change in August when restoration work begins.
A $2.3 million contract has been awarded to Forrester Construction Company and Lorton Stone, LLC. The money is coming from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Contractors will clean and restore the stone and address drainage issues, according to the National Park Service. In addition, the vault hatch cover in the memorial chamber will be replaced to specifications based on historical documentation. The electrical system and lighting will be replaced, the landscaping will be restored, and new paving will reflect the historic pattern of the 1930s.
“This project will ensure the memorial and its surrounds remain in excellent condition,” said John Piltzecker
, Superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks. He added that the memorial will also become a venue again for concerts and other public events.
By the way, the last living American veteran of the Great War lives not far from Washington. Frank Woodruff Buckles
, 109, lives in Charles Town, W. Va. He has been involved in the effort to create a permanent national memorial to World War I veterans. He visited the DC War Memorial two years ago.
"When I saw the sad state of repair that the D.C. memorial was in, I felt that something should be done about it," Buckles said, according to a report on Parade.com.
Restoring the memorial will not end the debate over whether there should be a national memorial on the Mall, but it will reclaim the nobility of a monument to those who served and sacrificed so long ago.
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