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Fight over National World War I Memorial continues in 2013

January 01, 2013|By Richard Simon
  • The District of Columbia War Memorial, which honors the 26,000 Washington residents who fought in World War I.
The District of Columbia War Memorial, which honors the 26,000 Washington… (David J. DeJone )

WASHINGTON — The fight for a national World War I memorial in the nation’s capital will continue in the new year.

Legislation sent by Congress to President Obama calls for creating a commission to plan for activities to commemorate the centennial of the Great War.

A bill approved earlier by the House called for a national memorial in Washington but the provision was stripped out by the Senate. The final measure was approved by the House on Monday.   

David DeJonge, president and co-founder of the  WWI Memorial Foundation, said he hopes that a national memorial in Washington will be considered in the next Congress. "We are encouraged that America has taken a step towards recognizing  the veterans of WWI" with the creation of the commission, he said.

Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) vowed to continue to push for a memorial on the National Mall near memorials to veterans of World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars. "There would be no better way to commemorate these brave Americans than to honor them with a memorial on the Mall,’’ Poe said.

But the idea of another memorial on the Mall is controversial because of concerns that it will become too crowded. Proponents of a national World War I memorial earlier called for turning the District of Columbia War Memorial on the Mall -- which honors D.C. residents who fought in the war -- into a national memorial. But the idea to broaden its purpose faced strong local opposition.

Some have suggested a better place for a national memorial would be in Pershing Park near the White House, where General of the Armies John J. Pershing’s statue stands along with artwork detailing the major battles in World War I that involved U.S. troops. 

The commission will need to raise private funds for the commemorative events.

Richard.simon@latimes.com

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