tv American Artifacts National World War I Memorial CSPAN August 18, 2021 1:42am-2:29am EDT
american soldiers and marines who fought on the western front and elsewhere in europe during the great war. pershing was their commander. in 1956 about eight years after general pershing 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 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 that 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. so in the 25 years between 1956 when the memorial was first authorized in 1981 when pershing park was dedicated. the intent behind this park evolved from being not just a memorial but to a memorial located within a vibrant urban park and we'll see elements of that as we as we walk around. but this precinct to 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. the second map is of the meuse-argonne campaign. this was the final american battle in the war to this day. it's the largest battle in american military history. 1.2 million american troops jumped off a start line on september 26 1918 about 40 miles long with the objection objection of sedan, which was a vital railway hub for the germans and supplying their forces and 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 in the war in 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 american landscape architect named m. paul friedberg. he was a very significant american landscape designer of the of the middle and late 20th century. and designed this according to the design principles of of his day one interesting thing about this site is that it is inside a very complex urban environment surrounding this park are the 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. and 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 those other sites. in 2013 congress created the us world war one centennial commission a temporary federal agency if you will that was given the mission of orchestrating and leading the nation's commemoration of the centennial of world war one. the war of course lasted from 1914 to 1918. and the commission took on as one of its primary projects the the redevelopment of pershing park as a true national world war one 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 country towns and cities and states all around the country had erected local memorials memorials to the to the men of a particular city
or town or state or university or other other group that had one often fought in the civil war. we continued that tradition after world war i cross the country. there are local world war one 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 the world war ii memorial is a often overlooked memorial that is to the residents of the district of columbia who fought in the war including the 499 who never came back? but we didn't build a national world war i memorial after after world war. i first true national war memorial in the nation's capital 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 one there were no remaining veterans. frank buckles the last american veteran of world war i 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 it happened a century before. it was also unique in the sense that the memorials we think of on the national mall. all those 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. you 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 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.
so we'll see that 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 was was hasn't been used as an ice skating rink for for several years 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. that 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 in educational purpose we knew that we needed to have a stronger educational component to this memorial then for instance the vietnam veterans memorial, which is a architectural structure with a list of names on it. so in these panels we talk about a variety of his 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 in our nation's history. the united states went from being an agrarian and an
inwardly focused nation that 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 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. well, we say that rosie the riveter had a mother because women entered industry entered the workforce and world war i in great numbers and served the military 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-american's 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 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 where we were redrawn after world war one and those new borders gave rise to new or reawakened ethnic and religious tensions in those areas that 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 of this country for the last 100 years without understanding how they
were affected by world war one these panels. give us the opportunity to talk about some of those things and give the visitor a basic education in world war one. 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 one and 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. the battle of belleau wood is is legendary in the history of the us 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. our 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 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 to how world war i was really a unifying event in our country. we were still very sectional 50 years after the civil war. you had all these different ethnicities and nationalities and immigrant groups that that perhaps hadn't been fully assimilated yet. yet they all came together in this national effort in world war one 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 ultimately served as an aviator and something called the lafayette flying corps, which was made up of american volunteers flying for france. and inscribed on the side of his plane on this plane flown by an african-american volunteer were the words all blood runs red. in the middle of the belvedere we have this medallion. 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 one every country adopted this symbol of winged victory as the front or the obverse of the metal and then each nation designed its own imagery for the reverse of the metal. we obtained the original die of the world war i victory medal from the us army's institute of heraldry. and we had a laser scan made of that metal. and then enlarged into five feet in diameter molded and then cast and bronze by the same foundry that will cast the sculpture that will go here in a couple years and we installed that here in the center of the of the of the belvedere. let's walk on down and have a look at the sculpture. so now we're walking toward the pool. which is where the memorial sculpture will 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 sabin howard who has creating the memorial sculpture. this is the sketch that was submitted to the commission of fine arts for final approval of the of the sculptural design. it's a 58 foot long bronze what they call high relief sculpture. some of the figures are in what the in bar relief they're set into the wall other figures in the forefront emerge from the wall and our practically in the round. 58 feet long 38 figures it will take sabine about four years start to finish to from the time. he begins sculpting until the time the work is cast and bronze reassembled sent back here for installation. so for now we have this sketchup 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 say been completes it before it's cast in bronze so that keep 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 memorial 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 by taking in the sculpture in its entirety as a complete work of art and then as they 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. it's it's normally it will be covered in water and it will help cool this area. it will provide something visually more interesting. it'll 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 on the scrim or put a band there or something like that. we can drain it temporarily. and it'll be drained in the winter so that it doesn't freeze over but the rest of the pool the falling water that will 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 friedberg design that we preserved. as you come into the park you're in sort of a submerged area which helps block out a lot of the street noise of the 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.
the joseph campbell wrote about that you can find in cultures all around the world throughout history. and the hero's journey is the myth of the of the hero who leaves home undertakes a heroic quest goes through great trial and sacrifice is transformed and then to ultimately returns home a changed a changed figure. and that theme actually didn't emerge in this until well through the process the savin howard's method was to to take actors and models and obtain authentic uniforms and dress of that period put his models and actors in those clothes put them in his foot in the studio and and put them in various scenes and various movements and then photograph them and rather than just take a single static photo he would 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 like best and then he would begin compiling photos from that into a collage a photographs that that created an entire composition or told an overall story. and he took something over like over 12,000 photographs in that process. and he and the memorial designer joe weishar would would work out a possible composition. they would show that to the centennial commission and the commission would respond. it was a very iterative very collaborative process. and saban's wife tracy slatton is a novelist and at one point she looked at the that composition in progress and said, you know, this is the hero's journey. and 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 in the work. and it tells that individual story and experience of the war.
on the 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 and in the next scene you see his his mother 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 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 their 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 and on their own but their posts and 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 what it begins very calmly very very still very serene. and then gradually starts to accelerate. there's a crescendo in the first half of the sculpture. first this the soldier is the father joins the joins the parade to war. in that very orderly grouping and then that grouping starts to break down and get more energy more more tension more coiled energy as the soldiers begin to prepare prepare 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 report reforms in 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 one 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 ethnic and racial divert diversity of american service in the war. handling the american the african-american figures was a challenge historically because of course african-american americans were segregated in the united states army during the war they served in their own units. and for the most part did not see combat, but there were two divisions in the us army the 92nd and the 93rd divisions that did see combat service. the 93rd division was assigned to fight under french command.
and instead of wearing the very familiar pyton helmets that were accustomed to seeing as the image of world war one which is called a brody helmet. it's a british helmet. they wore the french adrian helmet, which is very distinctive. it has a ridge along the crest. it has a smaller brim. and so the african-american figures and helmet that will appear in this in the sculpture. we'll be wearing that adrian helmet to reflect that they served on the segregated basis, but at the same time they appear arm and arm or shoulder to shoulder with white soldiers in other parts of the sculpture to show that they did serve along with all other americans. and the central figure is based on a marine corps gunnery sergeant named dan daly? gunnery sergeant daly 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. daily is reported to have called to his men to lead them into
battle. come on you sons of --. do you want to live forever? and so we asked the sculpture to illustrate that moment for us and this is his representation of it. behind him are two figures sort of at the forefront of the charge and you see that one is falling after he's been hit. by a german bullet, but at the same time he is still trying to charge forward and so the 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 roof that that illustrates another another 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. it's ambiguous whether he's done or just wounded. being supported by two comrades two medics now one thing about this sculpture is it doesn't
attempt to be encyclopedic. 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 there's no submarine. there's no barbed wire. and not all the services are fully represented in this sculpture. they are talked about at the belvedere. what there is a navy there is a navy sailor in this sculpture. the marine corps, of course is part of the us navy and when the marines fight they don't have their own non-combat functions. they use the navy. so a marine corps medic is actually a navy corpsman. so one of the figures holding that wounded soldier will have on his sleeve the insignia of a navy corpsman to reflect the navy service in the war. we do we do show gas poison gas. of course is perhaps the most iconic weaponry of world war one and so we're here we have a scene of a nurse holding a soldier who's been blinded by gas the nurse herself represents american contributions on the
front lines. 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 one. and then we asked saban 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 had their shoulder. the viewer there are perpendicular to the except this one figure. and we asked the sculpture 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 the thousand yard stare. the 1000 yard stair. is that look of shock and awe
and incomprehension that soldiers have when they come out of the chaos of battle 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 in those empty helmets represent the dead. and then that parade scene that we saw at the beginning of the sculpture which broke down now starts to reform. and what was very chaotic starts to reform into into order? again, we have a nurse helping a wounded social 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 represents the united states stepping on to 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 us to his to the mother and daughter. now there's been two important changes to these last two 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 sculptor 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 the new role of
women in american society as 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 there's a at their led by a color guard of soldiers holding the american flag and some other flags. and one of the soldiers in that grouping was a gentleman named singh loki. a chinese american who received the distinguished service cross in world war one the distinguished service cross is our second highest metal for valor so he will reprise that role in that final scene with the american flag projecting over the memorial. and lastly we get to the father returning home. and just as he took his helmet from his daughter at the first scene of the sculpture. 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. saban 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 sometime in 20 early 2023. and then the final figures will be sent off to the foundry for for. molding and casting and then they'll get reassembled 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 of the sculpture around memorial day 2024. so you'll see at the base of the sculpture. there is water that comes out in cascades into the pool.
originally, i did 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. but it was important to retain a water feature at this end of the park because again water helps cool the area. it creates a wonderful oral quality it helps block out some of the street noise some of the traffic noise. falling water is a recognized element in commemorative and memorial spaces. 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. the sculpture wall actually stands entirely within the pool as we'll see when we get around to the other side. and so it has water coming down both sides. as we work our way around to the
reverse to the back of this wall. we'll look at a couple of the inscriptions that have been described 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 will academy. from a world war i novel that she wrote called one of us. and this isn't the voice of her protagonist who was a soldier who fought in the war after he is just emerged from battle and is reflecting back on the troops that he led and he says of them they were mortal, but they were unconquerable. one of the things that i liked most about the process of selecting the quotations was it was crowdsourced we knew we were going to want quotations. we collected quotations for
several years as we were going through the design process, but we reached out to the world war one community. we reached out to historians. we reached out to the subscribers to various world war one blogs and newsletters and put out the call to them submit quotations and inscriptions that you think are particularly at for a memorial for consideration. and this will a gather quote is one that came to us through that crowd sourcing process. this is a quotation from ultimate andrews. that came from a book published by andrew carroll based on letters from the war. and this is from a letter that altamay andrews wrote to her mother. she was an army nurse serving in europe. and 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. we're not even to the service of women in world war one, but
again it spoke to the service of all those marginalized segments of american society at the time immigrants african-american's native americans again. who didn't enjoy the full range of freedoms and liberties and advantages here in this country, but went over to seas to fight for liberty and freedom and democracy for people they didn't know. and so this quotation to us speaks for all of them. this is a quotation from president woodrow wilson. never before have been crossed the seas to a foreign land to fight for a cause which they did not pretend was peculiar of their own but new was the cause of humanity of mankind. there was some discussion about whether to include a quotation from president wilson given his current reconsideration in american history, but 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 so doing he articulated an idealistic 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 will understand that this is not a memorial to wilson, but it's a reflection of the role that he played in our country's history and in world war one. and finally, we'll come to the last inscription. and when i bring people here, i 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 piece fountain it's the counterpoint to the war memorial and the other side of this wall war and peace. so 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 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 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 title. the young dead soldiers do not 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 named archibald macleish. archival mcclich was an artillery officer in the us army in world war. i saw service on in france.
his brother kenneth was a navy aviator in world war i shot down and killed over flanders. and his brother kenneth has now buried in an american military cemetery in belgium. macleish went on to win three pulitzer prizes two for poetry and one for drama. 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. research division became what is now the director of intelligence at the central intelligence agency? and macleish 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 in memorial. a park that you visit and recognize as a world war i memorial what can also enjoy an experience as a part. 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. enjoy some time to them some quiet time to themselves and while they're here experience the memorial and at the same time we think the various elements of the park the pershing statue in the aef memorial the belvedere with its educational component content. the inscriptions with their meaning and then of course the sculpture and then this piece mountain all work together to create an entire memorial that's integrated in harmonized with this part. people have asked us well, will it bother you when children come 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 there's flashing 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 a significance in our history learn something about the character and the magnitude of the 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 dollars. that's not just a construction but it includes the sculpture all the features. we've looked at. it includes the design process includes the design competition that we and it includes the regulatory review process that we went through because any memorial built on federal property in the nation's capital goes through a a lot of regulatory review and approval from a variety of different agencies. so the entire process all in costs about 42 million dollars. the national park service
contributed about 14 million dollars 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 were once centennial commission came along and so the park service page for those features. the american battle monuments commission, which is the agency that operates american military cemeteries and memorials overseas. which built the aef memorial the pershing memorial in the first place as partnered with the national park service for the ongoing maintenance of this site. and abmc paid for the the the ongoing maintenance endowment that the sponsor of any memorial in washington has to create at the beginning at the end of the process. so abmc put in some money for that endowment the rest of it almost 30 million dollars 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 and it was kind of an orphan frankly. it was a dc memorial on federal property and nobody knew who was primarily responsible for 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 with stimulus money from 2009. but our mission soon changed to advocating for a national world war one memorial because that local memorial is located among those three other national memorials to the other. great wars of the 20th century. and to be honest it was it was what they call if not you who moment. because i said well if somebody ought to somebody ought to established a national world war one memorial and i looked around and nobody else was doing it. so i decided to take it on. if i'd known then what a what a process it would be and that it
would take 13 years and 40 million dollars, and i'm not sure i would have had the nerve to do it but a a lot of other people. came onto the cause without whom this memorial wouldn't have been possible and together. together we got it done. it has been. incredibly gratifying to see people already experiencing the part the park formerly opened on saturday april 17. we had an event on april 16. 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. some time to time and it used to be that people would just sort of walk through the site to get from 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 later wreath and took a tour of the site. and so our objective in this whole project 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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