There is a monument on the mall that is dedicated not to a nation’s cause, nor to a great leader, nor to a private citizen. It is dedicated to the 499 men who gave their lives in support of their country in the Great War, from 1917 to 1918, in the European theater. The Noyes family helped spur legislation in 1924 to authorize this monument, and it was paid for through fundraising efforts amongst businesses and prominent families in the District, to the tune of $200,000 1924 dollars ($2.5M in 2011 dollars).
The District of Columbia War Memorial, recently refurbished with a grant from the stimulus program, is in jeopardy of being scooped up by the Congress and transformed into a national memorial that may strip the local character away from the District’s fallen from the memorial altogether.
H.R. 938, proposed by Rep Ted Poe of Texas calls for the establishment of a Kansas City, MO-based commission to, amongst other things, “establish a commemorative work at the site of the District of Columbia and National World War I Memorial consisting of an appropriate sculptural or other commemorative element reflecting the national character of the memorial.”
But here’s the thing: It’s not a national monument. It’s a local one. It was paid for by private DC donors, and though it’s been maintained (to sadly varying degrees) by the Park Service, this is a memorial that is of, by, and for the District, not the country.
Of course, given the District’s bastard red-headed stepchild status in the Congress, it’s not surprising that not only is there no one from the District that’s part of the proposed commission, it’s highly unlikely that, given the current composition of Congress, any say our delegate would have would matter.
The bill has only just been referred to subcommittee, so it’s possible that Congress wont get to this any time soon, but it’s something to keep your eye on.