National Mall Showing Its Age (CBS News), WWI Memorial (Examiner)

Dear Coalition Friends:

We took off the July 4th weekend for a family reunion and so missed a couple of stories in the media:

  1. CBS News broadcast yet another story this year about the Mall’s decrepit condition and Congressional funding to improve maintenance.  See the excerpt below and watch the video at this link.
  2. The Washington Examiner reports on proposals for a national World War I Memorial.  The DC WWI Memorial mentioned in the story is located on the Mall south of the Lincoln Memorial’s Reflecting Pool.

WASHINGTON, July 4, 2009

National Mall Showing Its Age

Price Tag on Maintenance of Nation’s Front Yard Is Causing a Budget Controversy
By Nancy Cordes

Each Fourth of July, the National Mall sparkles like a jewel.

But by day it’s clear, the nation’s front yard – as it is known – is in need of some serious yard work, reports CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes.

There’s crumbling sidewalks, stained marble. Even the reflecting pool, that Civil Rights and cultural touchstone, is a sad, soupy algae-filled mess.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Stephen Lorenzetti of the National Park Service.

Lorenzetti said the Mall is overdue for about $400 million worth of maintenance, including $18 million to shore up the rapidly sinking seawall that fronts the Jefferson Memorial.

Congress made a dent in that repair bill when it approved $56 million for Mall maintenance in the stimulus bill. Part of a larger $750 million outlay of stimulus funds for the entire national park system which the interior department claims will help create or retain 30,000 jobs…



Site of national WWI Memorial prompts congressional dispute

By Michael Neibauer
Examiner Staff Writer
July 5, 2009

A dispute is brewing between members of Congress over the appropriate location for the official United States World War I Memorial — the nation’s capital or Kansas City, Mo.

With only one World War I veteran still alive, 108-year-old Frank Buckles of West Virginia, and the war’s centennial fast approaching, the race is on to finally commemorate an official monument to the 117,000 American doughboys who died in the campaign.

But where?

On one side is Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, the sponsor of legislation designating the “overlooked” District of Columbia War Memorial on the National Mall as the national monument to fallen soldiers of the Great War. Poe’s bill calls for complete restoration of the D.C. memorial, a Doric temple dedicated in 1931 to Washington’s 499 dead, and the construction of an additional element on the site to make it nationally applicable.

On the other side is the entire Missouri delegation, which has filed bills in the House and Senate designating the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City as the country’s official monument to World War I dead.

“In some way, it’s tempting to think all important things need to be in Washington,” said Danny Rotert, spokesman for Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo. “But at the same time, if they were to build the World War I monument in Washington right now, exactly one U.S. World War I veteran would be able to visit it. Our World War I memorial has been visited by hundreds of thousands of World War I vets and their families. We’re holding it up for them, those who had come before.”

But Poe has stood his ground.

The doughboys deserve the same honor as soldiers of all other major 20th century American conflicts — a monument on the National Mall, Poe said in a statement. They should not be denied, he said, “just because a small group of people feel they have the exclusive right to the memorial in Kansas City.”

“Maybe they would prefer that we post a sign on the Mall instead saying: Sorry, no WWI Memorial here; head 1,000 miles west to Missouri,” Poe said.

The 217-foot Liberty Memorial tower in Kansas City, dedicated in 1926 and designed with locally raised revenues, houses the congressionally designated official National World War I Museum. It’s inscription: “In Honor of Those Who Served in the World War in Defense of Liberty and Our Country.”

The National Park Service recently allocated $7.3 million for the restoration of the D.C. monument, located between the Korean and World War II memorials.