While there are some landmarks in Washington, D.C. that pay tribute to World War I, there is no national memorial in the nation's capital that honors the 4.7 million Americans who served and the 116,516 who gave their lives during the war. In 2014, Congress authorized the construction of a new World War I Memorial.
Where to build the Memorial was a big controversy. The DC War Memorial, located adjacent to the World War II, Korean War Memorial, and Vietnam Memorial, pays tribute to DC residents who participated in World War I. But it is not a national memorial honoring all American war heroes. Many people thought that the DC War Memorial should be redone as a national landmark. After much deliberation, Congress authorized the construction of the new World War I Memorial on the grounds of Pershing Park on Pennsylvania Avenue, one block from the White House. It is expected to be dedicated in late 2018.
World War I was a global war that began in 1914 and lasted until 1918. It is the most forgotten of this nation’s wars, yet it led to World War II, and marked the emergence of the United States as a global power and as a defender of democratic allies against forces of aggression. In 1921, the citizens of Kansas City, MO raised the money to build the Liberty Memorial and later, in 2006 a museum was added to the site. In 2014, Congress designated the memorial and the museum as the National World War I Museum and Memorial. The museum is highly regarded and engages visitors in understanding the history of the Great War, but the nation's capital should also embrace educating visitors about this important era of American history.
In January 2016, the World War One Centennial Commission selected the design for the memorial from a pool of more than 350 submissions. The design is named "The Weight of Sacrifice" and will include themes expressed through three sources: relief sculpture, quotations of soldiers, and a freestanding sculpture.
About Pershing Park
Pershing Park is a small park located at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW (See a map) in the heart of Washington, DC in front of the Willard Hotel. The park currently contains a 12-foot bronze statue of John J. Pershing, who served as General of the Armies in World War I and design elements that include a fountain, flower beds and a pond. The space was used for many years as an ice skating rink in the winter. Pershing Park was designed by landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg and Partners and constructed by the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation as part of the improvements to Pennsylvania Avenue. In recent years, the park has been neglected and it is in great need of redesign.
About the National World War I Memorial Foundation
The WWI Memorial Foundation is a non-profit organization that was formed in 2008 by David DeJonge and Edwin Fountain after finding the decrepitated state of the DC WWI Memorial as observed by Frank Buckles, America’s last surviving WWI Veteran. The organization was formed to make Buckles’ dreams a reality, to restore the existing memorial and to honor all of the Americans who participated in the war. For more information, visit wwimemorial.org
The U.S. World War One Centennial Commission
The Commission was established to plan, develop and execute programs, projects, and activities to commemorate the centennial of World War One. From 2017 through 2019, the World War One Centennial Commission will coordinate events and activities commemorating the Centennial of the Great War. For more information, visit www.worldwar1centennial.org.
About the National World War I Museum and Memorial
The Museum, located in Kansas City, MO, was designated by Congress as America’s official World War I Museum and Memorial. It holds the most comprehensive collection of World War I objects and documents in the world and is the second-oldest public museum dedicated to preserving the objects, history and experiences of the war. The Museum takes visitors of all ages on an epic journey through a transformative period and shares deeply personal stories of courage, honor, patriotism and sacrifice. To learn more, visit theworldwar.org.