Renovated District of Columbia World War I Memorial a looker

The ugly duckling has become a swan.

The District of Columbia World War I Memorial now stands proudly, its cleared grounds leading to a Doric temple worthy of a place along the National Mall.

It wasn’t always that way. Indeed, it was a disgrace before its re-dedication on Friday after a year-long renovation. The once crumbled walkways were replaced and 80 years of grime largely scrubbed away from the white marble, though there are blotches of red remaining.

It looks like a respectable memorial once more. Thanks to $3.5 million in federal funding (that stimulus money so often discussed), the 1931 memorial to 499 District residents that died in the Great War is no longer hidden among overgrown brush. Locals spent $200,000 on the remembrance, which is $2.4 million today so renovations cost as much as the original structure.

The first war memorial on the Mall, President Herbert Hoover dedicated the 47-foot domed structure remembering the 1914-18 war. At 43-feet wide, it was intended as a band stand, but it was a pretty lonely area until the World War II Memorial opened nearby in 2004.

After the new Martin Luther King Memorial opened in August across the street, thousands now pass the World War I memorial. It could use a sign because many people are still confused over what it is.

It could get worse if Texas Rep. Ted Poe gets his way; submitting a bill to turn the District’s memorial into a national one. There should be a national World War I memorial, but this one was paid for by District residents to honors their own and shouldn’t be hijacked to fill a need.

There’s a ban on any future memorials on the mall, which makes no sense to me given there is space, so Poe is trying to get a national one for free. Kinda like building a big new house over footprint of an old house. Sorry, not happening. Get your own, Poe.

About Rick

Rick Snider is a native Washingtonian, long-time journalist and licensed tour guide since 2010.
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