When it meets today, the National Capital Planning Commission should withhold its final approval for the disastrous plan for a World War II memorial in Washington's National Mall. The honorable intent behind the tribute to the men and women of that war notwithstanding, its location would chop up the great stretch of lawn in front of the Lincoln Memorial and destroy the historic place where for decades Americans have gathered in national reflection and peaceful protest. It's a good idea so badly executed that it must be stopped.
The football-field-size project before the commission today is so overwrought that it mocks rather than honors war veterans. Amid 56 commemorative pillars, two triumphal arches, a gold-star memorial wall, two waterfalls, four pools, eight monumental bronze eagles, 58 bronze wreaths and 24 bas-relief panels, where would visitors find the visual or emotional space to contemplate the sacrifices of those flesh-and-blood military men and women who suffered through four grinding years to finally vanquish tyranny?
And wedging this Mussolini moderne design between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument would destroy the look and historical sense of a nationally treasured place. Visitors would no longer be able to walk directly through open space because the way would be blocked by the memorial's four-story arches, 17-foot-high pillars and waterfalls.