Some Vets Opposing WII Memorial (The Atlanta Constitution)

By Miriam A. Garcia, The Atlanta Constitution

Washington – A group of World War II veterans said Monday they oppose building a memorial between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, saying it will “destroy” the National Mall.

“Veterans to Save the Mall” and other groups launched a campaign to relocate the proposed memorial or modify its elaborate design.

“Destroying our National Mall should not be our legacy,” said John Graves, a decorated veteran who fought with the 63rd Infantry Division.

“I want to honor all who served in World War. II, but in a way that respects our history and the heritage of the National Mall,” Graves said in a statement. He also is featured in an advertisement opposing the memorial.

Opponents argue the 56 square pillars and two arches will be an intrusive presence. The monunent’s design, featuring a 237-by-338-foot lowered plaza at the east end of the Reflecting Pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial, has received preliminary approval from the National Park Service, the Commission of Fine Arts and the National Capital Planning Commission.

The National WWII Memorial campaign has raised nearly $90 million from veterans groups, private citizens and corporations to build the $100 million project, said Mike Conley, associate director of the project. World War II was “clearly the most significant event of the 20th century, and the victory belongs in the company of the Washington and Lincoln memorials,” Conley said.

Preserving views of the two monuments was the main criterion for the design, he said. “The route of visitors from Washington to Lincoln is virtually unchanged.” After objections were raised to the original design, Conley said, the structure was redesigned to allow a wider central vista. Curved ramps were added to make it easier for pedestrians to get around the memorial.

Backers expect final approval this summer and groundbreaking on Veterans’ Day in November, Conley said.

“We need to get it built before there aren’t any more World War II veterans to see it,” he said.