A new memorial honoring those who fought in World War I will be dedicated Friday in Washington, D.C.
More than 117,000 U.S. soldiers died in World War I. For years, there's been some question over how best to memorialize them.
“After 102 years, the nation has a memorial in its capital dedicated to 4.7 million Americans who served their nation,” said Terry Hamby of the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission.
Since 1981, the one-and-three-quarter-acre space of Pershing Park has been home to the statue of Gen. John J Pershing. Lead designer Joe Weishaar was tasked with creating some context with the new additions. This includes a new layout for the plaza, reflecting pool and sculpture. But Weishaar said it hasn’t been easy.
"So many challenges, both because we're combatting the historic preservation elements, but also, how do you take what’s here and work with it," Weishaar said.
“In here we have interpretive educational content that describes both the conflict, the people who were in it, the ways that it impacted and changed the world, and then the sculpture, which won’t be installed until 2024, is really the story of American involvement in the war,” Weishaar said.
American Legion National Cmdr. Bill Oxford shared his view on how divisive the military was during World War I.
“African Americans served in separate units, women’s suffrage was still at its height, Native Americans served and they weren't considered to be American citizens at the time,” Oxford said.
The ceremony will be displayed virtually online and there will be a socially distanced viewing area on Freedom Plaza via a giant screen. A military flyover is also planned for the dedication ceremony.