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tv   American Artifacts National World War I Memorial  CSPAN  August 17, 2021 1:55pm-2:42pm EDT

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we're standing here next to this statue of general john j. pershing at this site which was originally known as pershing park dedicated in 1981. he was the commander of expeditionary forces in world war i or aef. the aef were those american soldiers and marines who fought in the western front and elsewhere in europe during the great war. he was their commander. in 1956 about eight years after he died, the congress authorized the american battle monuments commission to erect a memorial to general pershing who was the founding chairman of the abmc. the american battle monuments commission was created by congress after world war i to design and maintain american military cemeteries and monuments in europe after the great war. its mission is expanded to include world war ii and other
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conflicts as well. and so ultimately this memorial originally authorized in 1956 was dedicated in 1981. by that time this site had become included in the overall effort to restore pennsylvania avenue. in january 1961 president john f. kennedy was inaugurated during his inaugural parade, and he looked around and he saw the pennsylvania avenue, which is america's main street, the most symbolically important boulevard in the country, had really fallen into pretty sad condition. and so he commissioned a bright young man named daniel patrick moynihan to lead the effort to revitalize pennsylvania avenue. the development of pershing park became part of that effort. between 1956 when the memorial was first authorized and 1981 when pershing park was dedicated, the intent behind this park evolved from being not
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just a memorial but to a memorial located within a vibrant, urban park. and we'll see elements of that as we walk around. but this precinct of the park, the aef memorial, remains today as it was dedicated in 1981. it has the memorial to general pershing. and then over here we have these battle maps, one of the western front, the famous western front from world war i, 400 miles of trench lines from the north sea all the way to the swiss border with belgium. and the british and the french and the belgians and many other countries fought against the germans along this line for four terrible years. and then the united states arrived in 1917, began serious fighting in early 1918, and helped turn the tide of war for the allies. this second map is of the meuse-argonne campaign. this was the final american
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battle in the war. to this day it's the largest battle in american military history. 1.2 million american troops jumped on of a start line on september 26th, 1918 about 40 miles long with the objective of sedan, which was a vital railway hub for the germans in supplying their forces on the western front. and over 47 days those american troops pushed the germans back, ultimately circling sedan and then on november 11, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the armistice took effect and the war on the western front ended. so this aef memorial again was part of the original design of the park. the rest of the park was designed by a prominent landscape architect. he was a very significant american landscape designer of the middle and late 20th century. and designed this according to the design principles of his
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day. one interesting thing about this site is that it is inside a very complex urban environment, surrounding this park are the willard hotel, the hotel washington. you have the sherman memorial across the street. to the south is the department of commerce, one of the federal triangle buildings. then we have the district of columbia wilson building, freedom plaza, the marriott hotel. very different urban spaces, very different design styles. and one thing this park does is it does not compete with those other sites, and it harmonizes and complements those other sites. in 2013, congress created the u.s. world war i centennial commission, a temporary federal
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agency, if you will, that was given the mission of orchestrating and leading the nation's commemoration of the centennial of world war i. the war, of course, lasted from 1914 to 1918. and the commission took on as one of its primary projects the redevelopment of pershing park as a true national world war i memorial. at the end of world war i, our nation didn't really think in terms of national memorials. after the civil war, towns and cities and states all around the country had erected local memorials, memorials to the men of a particular city or town or state or university or other group that had often fought in the civil war. we continued that tradition after world war i. across the country there are local world war i memorials in cities and towns and states, including one here on the national mall, the district of columbia war memorial, which is now located halfway between the korean war veterans memorial and the world war ii memorial, is an often overlooked memorial that is to the residents of the district of columbia who fought in the war including the 499 who
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never came back. but we didn't build a national world war i memorial after world war i. our first true national war memorial in the nation's capitol was the vietnam veterans memorial which was dedicated in 1982, just about a decade after america stopped fighting in that war. and since then we've been working backwards in time. because after the vietnam veterans memorial we built the korean war veterans memorial and then we built the world war ii memorial. all those memorials were built with the leadership and the political and financial support of veterans of those wars and their families. when we got to world war i there were no remaining veterans. frank buchols died in 2011 at the age of 110. so this memorial was unique in that it was being created to honor a generation of soldiers who were no longer with us to commemorate an event that had happened a century before. it was also unique in the sense that the memorials we think of on the national mall, all those
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memorials have to do is be a memorial. they serve no other function. the world war i memorial, by contrast, has to be that memorial located within a vibrant urban park. because here on pennsylvania avenue, we are at the juncture, if you will, between the federal part of the city and the city. and so to the south you have federal triangle, all the federal office buildings. we have the national mall, you have all those monuments. what we call the monumental core of washington. on the other side of pennsylvania avenue leading up to the north is where all the people who live and work and visit and shop in the district of columbia, that's where they exist. so this site straddles the federal part and the city part. and so it has to be not just a memorial but also a park. so the commission's goal in this project was to transform this site from a park that happened
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to have this memorial tucked into one corner, almost as an afterthought to the overall park, and make it a memorial located within a living, breathing urban park. so we walk over here, i'll tell you a little bit about what i mean. so i'm walking over toward what we call the belvedere which is a circular area, and it occupies the original footprint of what used to be a visitor kiosk. in the center of the pool of the park is a large pool of water. and that's the original pool that was here. and originally that pool was intended to work as a water feature in the summertime, and then it would be iced over and become an ice skating rink in the winter. and so this belvedere where we're standing used to be the site of a visitor kiosk where someone could come and buy a hot chocolate, a hot dog, a cup of coffee, and they could actually rent their ice skates here and go out and skate on the rink. the park hasn't been used as an ice skating rink for some years
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now. and we were allowed to take that visitor kiosk down and build this belvedere. this belvedere accomplishes a couple different purposes. one, it helps integrate the entire site. whereas before we just had the pershing memorial in that corner. now we have the pershing memorial, the new memorial sculpture at the far end of the park, which we'll talk about, and then this belvedere in between. and so from the belvedere you can look at the pershing memorial, you can look at the new sculpture. it ties the whole site together visually and thematically. and then along the top of this belvedere we have a series of interpretive panels. now in contrast to the memorials on the mall, very few americans know very much about world war i. and our objective in this memorial was to fulfill not just a commemorative purpose but an educational purpose. we knew that we needed to have a stronger educational component to this memorial, then, for
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instance, the vietnam veterans memorial, which is an architectural structure with a list of names on it. so in these panels we talk about a variety of aspects of the history of the war, not just the military history but the social, the cultural, the political history. because world war i was transformative in our nation's history. the united states went from being an agrarian and an inwardly focused nation whose attention was in the western hemisphere and a little bit in the pacific but had little to do with european affairs, to a modern industrialized nation that was a leading player on the world stage. the war was transformative in the contributions of many different segments of american society. we all know about rosie the riveter in world war ii.
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we say that rosie the riveter had a mother because women entered industry, entered the workforce in world war i in great numbers and served the war effort in that capacity. they went overseas and served as nurses and volunteers in the red cross, the salvation army, the ymca, as well as the united states army. they served in uniform for the first time in our history in the navy and marine corps. and then of course two years after the war was ended they achieved the right to vote. so the war was transformative in the role of women in american history. african-americans, immigrants, native americans who weren't even citizens at the time, latinos, every racial and ethnic section of american society contributed to the war and served in the war, even those that did not enjoy the full set of freedoms and liberties back home, but they went and fought for those freedoms overseas. the war changed the course of world history over the next hundred years. world war ii flowed almost directly from world war i. the soviet union emerged from
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the ashes of world war i and then led 30 years later of course to the cold war between the united states and the soviet union. the maps of eastern europe, of the middle east, of africa, were redrawn after world war i. and those new borders reawakened ethnic and religious tensions in those areas that we are dealing with today in iraq, in syria, in israel, in the balkans. so you can't understand the history of the world or this country for the last 100 years without understanding how they were affected by world war i. these panels give us the opportunity to talk about some of those things and give the visitor a basic education in world war i. a number of the panels have a qr code on them. you can hold your phone up to those qr codes and pull up an app that will give you a virtual experience of the memorial of images, text, video, audio, a lot of other interpretive material about world war i and
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about the memorial. each panel has a quotation from someone associated with the war that talks about in a very compelling way a particular aspect of the war. one is from a marine corps captain lloyd williams at the battle of belleau wood. that battle is legendary in the history of the u.s. marine corps, and basically made the united states marine corps. for the first time the marines operated as a land-based fighting force, and they lost more men on the first day of that battle than the marines had lost in their entire history up until that point. and as the marines were coming up to the line and replacing french troops that had already been there, a french officer who was pulling out advised the americans to retreat. and captain williams famously said, retreat, hell, we just got here, which i think is a testament to the american fighting spirit in the war. and then my other favorite quotation is from the famous american soldier alvin york who received the medal of honor for his accomplishments in world war i, probably the most famous
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american soldier in that war. and he doesn't talk about his service, but he speaks to that diversity of contribution of all parts of american society. and he says, i fought with catholics and protestants, with jews, greeks, italians, poles, and irish, as well as american boys in the world war. they were buddies of mine, and i learned to love them. and i just think that speaks so beautifully to how world war i was really a unifying event in our country. we were so very sectional 50 years after the civil war. you had all these different ethnicities and nationalities and immigrant groups that perhaps hadn't been fully assimilated yet. yet they all came together in this national effort in world
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war i, and i thought that sergeant york spoke beautifully to that. on the same theme there's another quotation from an african-american named eugene bullard who was living in france when the war broke out and volunteered in the french foreign legion and served in the lafayette flying corps, which was made up of american volunteers flying for france. and inscribed on the side of this plane flown by an african-american volunteer were the words "all blood runs red." in the middle of the belvedere we have this medalion. the medallion is an enlargement of the allied victory medal that was given to soldiers of all the allied nations that fought in world war i. every country adopted this symbol of winged victory as the front of the medal, and then each nation designed its own imaginary for the reverse of the medal. we obtained the original dye of the world war i victory medal from the u.s. army's institute of heraldry. and we had a laser scan made of that medal, and then enlarged into five feet in diameter, molded and then cast in bronze by the same foundry that will cast the scripture that will go
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here in a couple years. and we installed that here in the center of the belvedere. let's have a walk on down and look at the sculpture. so now we're talking toward the pool, which is where the memorial sculpture where eventually be in a few years. so over here at the far end of the pool you'll see a sketch. this is a sketch by the artist saban howard who is creating the memorial sculpture. this is the sketch that was submitted to the commission of fine arts for final approval of the sculptural design. it's a 58-foot-long bronze what they call high-relief sculpture. some of the figures are set into the wall. other figures in the forefront emerge from the wall and are
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practically in the round. 58 feet long, 38 figures. it will take saban about four years start to finish from the time he begins sculpting until the time the work is cast in bronze, reassembled, sent back here for installation. so for now we have this sketch-up that shows what the sculpture will look like. over time we're going to replace sections of that sketch with photographs of the clay sculpture as saban completes it before it's cast in bronze so that people can see what it will look like and watch its progress. this is the same footprint as the original pool of water that was here in the park. and we built this platform over the top of it to enable viewers to approach the sculpture all the way from the pershing statue and experience it from an entire range of distances and perspectives so that they can begin by taking in the sculpture in its entirety as a complete work of art, and then as they
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approach it, they can begin focusing on and experiencing individual figures and scenes and elements of the sculpture in greater detail. in the middle we have what we call a scrim of water. this water is just an eighth of an inch deep. normally it will be covered in water and it will help cool this area. it will provide something visually more interesting. it will provide the opportunity for a reflection of the sculpture. it'll create a traffic pattern around so that you view the sculpture from left to right. it can also drain if we ever want to have an event here and put out chairs or put a band there or something like that. we can drain it temporarily. and it will be drained in the water so that it doesn't freeze over. but the rest of the pool, the falling water that we'll go see, that's intended to operate year-round. everything else that you look around, you look at this terracing, you look at how there are grass berms on most sides of the park. that's all the original freedberg design that we preserve. as you come into the park, you're in sort of a submerged area, which helps block out a
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lot of the street noise of the traffic around us, and some of the visual disturbance. so you have a fairly serene contemplative space once you get into the park. the sculpture is called "a soldier's journey." and it's based very consciously on the archetypal myth of the hero's journey that joseph campbell wrote about and you can find in cultures all around the world throughout history. and the heroes journey is the myth of the hero who leaves home, undertakes a heroic quest, goes through great trial and sacrifice, is transformed, and then ultimately returns home a changed figure. and that theme actually didn't emerge in this until well through the process. saban howard's method was to take actors and models and obtain authentic uniforms and
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dress of that period, put his models and actors in those clothes, put them in a studio, and put them in various scenes and various movements, and then photograph them. and rather than just take a single static photo, he would direct them like a stage director through a particular movement or scene and capture that in a burst of photos on his camera and then pull out the particular images that he liked best. and then he would begin compiling photos from that into a collage of photographs that created an entire composition or told an overall story. and he took something like over 12,000 photographs in that process. and he and the memorial designer would work out a possible composition. they would show that to the centennial commission, and the commission would respond, and it was a very collaborative process. and sabin's wife tracy slattin is a novelist. at one point she said, you know, this is the hero's journey, and
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we realize that then. and from then on it's been very much focused on that theme. and it operates on two levels. so it tells the story of a figure, an american soldier, who is a recurring figure throughout the work, that initial father figure in the opening scene shows up at various points in the work. it tells that individual's story and experience of the war. on a second level, it tells the nation's story and experience of the war. so, for instance, in this initial scene, you have the father taking his helmet from his wife and daughter as he prepares to leave home and answer the call to arms, join the parade to war. and then the next scene you see his wife with her hand on his arm as if to hold him back, as if to restrain him from going to war. and that reflects the nation's debate that it had back before it joined the war about isolation, about neutrality, about whether it should join this conflict in europe, which didn't seem to have anything to
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do with america. and then throughout you see the sculpture operating on those different levels. now one thing you can see as you look at the work as a whole is that first of all there's a geometry to the work. there are specific angles and diagonals and curves and waves throughout the work. and so the figures aren't just posed on their own, but they're posed in how they relate to the other figures in the work to illustrate some of the themes of the work. as we'll see, it also picks up velocity as it goes. so it begins very calmly, very still, very serene, and then gradually starts accelerate. there's a crescendo in the first half of the sculpture. first as a soldier as the father joins the parade to war in that very orderly grouping, and then that grouping starts to break down and get more energy and more tension, more coiled energy as the soldiers begin to prepare
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for battle. and then they explode out of the trench as they go over the top and enter the fray of combat. and then as they emerge from combat, the decrescendo starts, the sculpture starts to slow down again. as you get into the scenes of loss and the cost of war, and then ultimately the parade reforms and the soldier returns home. with 38 figures in this sculpture, it gave us the opportunity to reflect the great diversity of american service in the war. there are seven female figures in this sculpture, some at home, but also on the battlefront where women served during world war i. there are four african-american figures in the sculpture. there's a native american, there will be an asian-american. we have models of eastern european descent, southern european descent, jewish descent. we reflect that great diversity of american service in the war. handling the african-american figures was a challenge
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historically because of course african-americans were segregated in the united states army during the war. they served in their own units. for the most part did not see combat. but there were two divisions in the u.s. army, the 92nd and the 93rd division that did see combat. they were assigned to fight under french command. instead of wearing the very familiar pie tin helmets that we're accustomed to seeing in world war i, which is called a brody helmet, they war the french adrian helmet. it has a ridge along the crest and a smaller brim. so the african-american figures in helmet that will appear in the sculpture will be wearing that adrian helmet to reflect that they served on the segregated basis. but, at the same time, they appear arm in arm or shoulder to shoulder with white soldiers in other parts of the sculpture to show that they did serve along
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with all other americans. and the central figure is based on a marine corps gunnery sergeant named dan daly. he had already received two medals of honor, one for service in the philippines, one in haiti. and as he was leading his men across an open field into the belleau wood, daly is reported to have called to his men to lead into battle, "come on, you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?" behind him are two figures, sort of at the forefront of the charge, and you see that one is falling after he has been hit by a german bullet. but, at the same time, he is still trying to charge forward. and so his foot is planted into the ground even though he's been hit, he's still trying to move forward into the fray. and that illustrates another
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saying from the war by a german officer who said "we can kill the americans but we can't stop them." and then you begin to come off the battlefield and you start to see the wounds, you start to see the cost. and there's a figure here that's ambiguous whether he's dying or just wounded, being supported by two comrades, two medics. one thing about this sculpture is it doesn't attempt to tell every aspect of the war. so there's no airplane in here, there's no machine gun, there's no submarine, there's no barbed wire. not all the services are fully represented in this sculpture. they are talked about at the belvedere. but there is a navy sailor in this sculpture, the marine corps, of course, is part of the u.s. navy. and when the marines fight, they don't have their own noncombat functions. they use the navy. so a marine corps medic is actually a navy corpsman. one of the figures holding that wounded soldier will have the
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insignia of a navy corpsman. we do show poison gas, the most iconic weaponry of world war i. here we have the scene of a nurse holding a soldier who's been blinded by gas. and the soldier represents the blindness of war and depicts that technology of war. we'll also have some empty artillery shell casings strewn on the ground because artillery was the greatest killer of world war i. and then we asked sabin for another particular image. when you look at the sculpture, you see that almost all the figures are moving left to right. they're moving across the line of sight of the viewer. they have their shoulder toward
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the viewer, they're perpendicular to the viewer. except this one figure. and we asked the sculptor, give us a figure that stops and stands and turns and looks out directly at the viewer to create an opportunity for the viewer to commune directly with the sculpture. and we said in that figure give us a thousand-yard stare. and that is a look of shock and awe and incomprehension that soldiers have when they come out of the chaos and the stress of battle as they have a moment to stop and pause and think back on what it is they just experienced, what it was all for, what it meant, what it cost. and you see at the feet of that soldier are a couple empty helmets. and those empty helmets represent the dead. and in that parade scene that we saw at the beginning of the sculpture which broke down now starts to reform.
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and what was very chaotic starts to reform into order. again, we have a nurse helping a wounded soldier off the field. and then we have another grouping of three soldiers, two of them carrying a buddy off of the field. and the one soldier with his chin up and his chest out is looking back as if to look back with pride on american accomplishment in the war. and then that formal parade we had at the beginning reforms here. and this is on one level the homecoming parade that american doughboys had when they came back from the war. on another level it represents the country. it represents the united states stepping onto the world stage, stepping into the 20th century or what we call the american century as a leading world power. finally the father returns home to the mother and daughter. now there's been two important changes to these last two
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groupings that you don't see in the sketch that you'll see in the sculpture. this last grouping was originally the father, mother, and daughter. but sabin, howard, the sculpture, decided that he wanted to have a stronger visual at the very end of just two figures. so he wanted to remove the mother from that final grouping. but we didn't want to lose the strong female presence at the end of the sculpture. so in this final parade grouping, the central figure will be a woman in uniform of the period representing the new role of women in american society as america begins the 20th century. the third figure in that sculpture will be asian-american. there's a famous photograph of a homecoming parade in new york city as the troops come down broadway, and if they're led by a color guard of soldiers holding the american flag and some other flags. and one of the soldiers was a gentleman named sin lao-ki. a chinese american moo received the distinguished service cross. nation's second highest medal for valor. and lastly we get the father returning home.
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now he will return home and hand his helmet back to his daughter. his daughter represents the greatest generation, and she looks into the helmet and she sees world war ii. she sees the war that will bring america back to europe just 23 years later. sabin has completed the first 11 figures of this sculpture in clay, and they've been sent off to a foundry in the united kingdom where they are being molded and then cast into bronze. he's now working on the second grouping of figures. he expects to finish sculpting some time in early 2023. and then the final figures will be sent off to the foundry for molding and casting, and then they will get reassembled,
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welded back together, a patina will be applied, and then they will be shipped back to the united states for installation here. and we expect that installation to happen in either late 2023 or early 2024, and we're targeting a dedication to the sculpture around memorial day 2024. at the base of the sculpture there is water that comes out and cascades into the pool. originally at this end of the park, there was a large water feature, a large block of stone that had water cascading down all four sides. it was important to retain a water feature at this end of the park because water helps cool the area, it creates a wonderful aural quality. it helps block out some of the street and traffic noise. falling water is a recognized element in commemorative and memorial spaces.
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and so we wanted to preserve that water feature. so we have water coming out the front of the wall below the sculpture here, and then we go around to the back. you'll see how water cascades from the very top of the wall into the pool. this sculpture wall actually stands entirely within the pool as we'll see when we get around to the other side. so it has water coming down both sides. as we work our way around the back of the wall, we will take a look at a couple of the inscriptions that have been inscribed at the memorial site. to my mind, quotations are often among the most powerful elements of a memorial site. there is already an existing inscription from general pershing behind his sculpture where he pays testament to the troops he commanded. and then there are four new inscriptions at the site. this is one from the famous american novelist willa cather from a world war i novel that she wrote called "one of us." and this is in the voice of her
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protagonist who was a soldier who fought in the war after he has just emerged from battle and is reflecting back on the troops that he led. he says of them, they were mortal but they were inconquerable. "one of the things i liked most about selecting the quotations was it was crowdsourced. we knew we were going to want quotations. we collected them for several years. but we reached out to the world war i community. we reached out to historians. we reached out to the subscribers to various world war i blogs and newsletters and put out the call to them, submit quotations and inscriptions that you think are particularly apt for a memorial for consideration. and this willa cather quote is one that came to us through that crowdsourcing process. this is a quotation from alta may andrews. it came from a book published by andrew carroll based on letters
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from the war. this is from a letter that she wrote to her mother. she was an army nurse serving in europe. she says, if this world must become embroiled in a tremendous war to end wars, i am glad that i too may play a part in it. and to us that spoke not just to her service or not even to the service of women in world war i, but, again, it spoke to the service of all those marginalized segments of american society at the time, immigrants, african-americans, native americans, again, who didn't enjoy the full range of freedoms and liberties and advantages here in this country but went overseas to fight for freedom and liberty and democracy for peoples they didn't know. so this quotation speaks to all of them. this is a quotation from president woodrow wilson. never before have men crossed the seas to a foreign land to fight for a cause which they did not pretend was of their own but knew it was the cause and humanity of mankind.
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there was some discussion to include a quotation from president wilson. we thought it was important. he was our president at the time. he led us into war. he articulated this idealistic vision to the american people that led them to support the war effort and to volunteer and to answer the draft to go to war. and in so doing he articulated an idealist view of american foreign policy that has shaped us for the next 100 years. so we thought it necessary to have a quotation from wilson. we think that people understand that this is not a memorial to wilson but is a reflection of the role that he played in our country's history and in world war i. and finally we'll come to the last inscription. and when i bring people here, i
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just take them up to the top of the steps, and i just let them take it in and reflect on it for a minute before i begin talking. so this is the peace fountain. it's the counterpoint to the war memorial "war and peace." having remembered in the sculpture the service and sacrifice of american forces in the war, the peace fountain asks the viewer to reflect on what that meant and what it was for. and it's a direct call to the viewer to redeem that sacrifice to give meaning to it, to give meaning to their courage and sacrifice by striving for a better more peaceful world. and so this inscription says "whether our lives and our deaths were for peace and a new hope or for nothing, we cannot say. it is you who must say this. they say, we leave you our deaths, give them their meaning. we were young, they say, we have died, remember us." this is from a poem titled "the young dead soldiers do not
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speak." written in the voices of the dead of world war i and it's that call to the viewer to validate what they did. it's by an american poet and public servant. he was an artillery officer in the u.s. army in world war i. he saw service in france. his brother kenneth was a navy aviator in world war i, shot down and killed over flanders. and his brother kenneth is now buried in an american military cemetery in belgian. he was appointed by president franklin roosevelt to serve as the librarian of congress. when world war ii broke out, he organized the research department of the oss, the office of strategic services. that research division became
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what is now the director of intelligence at the central intelligence agency. and he wrote this poem at the beginning of world war ii. with world war ii in the forefront of his mind but obviously with his world war i experience and the sacrifice of his own brother in the back of his mind as he wrote this. so we hope we've transformed this site from a park that happened to have a memorial as one part of it to an integrated park and memorial, a park that you visit and recognize as a world war i memorial but can also enjoy and experience as a park. we hope that people who are staying in the hotels who work in the offices who are touring downtown will come and visit and have their lunch, meet friends,
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enjoy some quiet time to themselves. while they're here experience the memorial. and at the same time we think the various elements of the park, the pershing statue and the aef memorial, the belvedere with its educational content, the inscriptions with their meaning and then of course the you wanture and then this peace fountain all work together to create an entire memorial that's integrated and harmonized with this park. people have asked us, well, will it bother you when children in and splash around in the water, which we've already seen them do. and my reaction is, no, it won't bother me at all. because if they're splashing in the water, that means they're here and that's what's important. and people may come here because it's a park, but we hope that while they're here, they learn something about world war i, learn something about the significance in our history, learn something about the character and the magnitude of the service and sacrifice of american forces in the war and take that away with them. the restoration and redevelopment of this memorial and park cost about $42 million. that's not just the construction, but it includes the sculpture, all the features we've looked at. it includes the design process, includes the design competition that we held, and it includes the regulatory review process
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that we went through. because any memorial built on federal property in the nation's capitol goes through a lot of regulatory review and approval from a variety of different agencies. so the entire process all in cost about $42 million. the national park service contributed about $14 million of that to go toward restoration of the park, cleaning up systems and features of the park that had been under national park service maintenance and responsibility before the world war i centennial commission came along. and so the park service paid for those features. the american battle monuments commission, which is the agency that operates the american military cemeteries and memorials overseas which built the aef memorial, the pershing memorial in the first place has partnered with the national park service for the ongoing maintenance of this site, and
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abmc paid for the ongoing maintenance endowment that the sponsor of any memorial in washington has to create at the end of the process. so, abmc put in some money for that endowment. the rest of it, almost $30 million, came from private donations. i began this process back in 2008, actually i began with an effort to restore the district of columbia war memorial on the mall because it was in bad shape. it was a d.c. memorial on federal property and nobody knew who was primarily responsible for maintaining it. and it had fallen into bad shape. so i and a few other people started a small foundation to get money to restore that. and ultimately the park service did restore it with stimulus money from 2009. but our mission soon changed to advocating for a national world war i memorial, because that local memorial is located among those three other national
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memorials to the other great wars of the 20th century. and, to be honest, it was what they call, if not you, who moment, because i said, well, somebody ought to establish a national world war i memorial, and i looked around and nobody else was doing it. so i decided to take it on. if i had known then what a process it would be and that it would take 13 years and $40 million, i'm not sure i would have had the nerve to do it. but a lot of other people came on to the cause without whom this memorial wouldn't have been possible, and together we got it done. it has been incredibly gratifying to see people already experiencing the park. the park formally opened on saturday april 17. we had an event on april 16th. we began taking the construction fences down, and immediately people came onto the site. and i've been down here over the last few days from time to time.
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and it used to be that people would just sort of walk through the site to get from one place to another. but now they are coming here, they are reading the panels, they're taking photographs of the memorial. people have already started leaving flowers and other mementos here. they're taking photographs of those. today just four days after the park opened we had our first official visit and presentation. the ambassador from belgium and the chief of the belgian armed forces came and laid a wreath and took a tour of the site. our objective in this whole process was twofold. education and commemoration. to teach the american people and also foreign visitors something about american service in the war and then to remember the courage and sacrifice of those who did serve. and we're already seeing that happen here, and that's just immensely gratifying.
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next, the book road less traveled. the secret battle to tend great war.


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