The Great War Remembered – Or Not – in the District of Columbia

In the District of Columbia the local monument to those citizens of the District killed in the Great War is in very poor condition. Much of the marble has cracked and the structure is unsound. It would only take money to fix it. But it would take a lot of money since the entire monument would probably have to be disassembled and rebuilt by expert conservators. Who will pay? This isn’t a Federal monument, even though it is in Washington, DC. This is a local monument erected by the City of Washington. So the Feds won’t pay to fix it nor should they. And DC can’t afford to.

“The District of Columbia World War Memorial (1931), by Frederick H. Brooke, between the Reflecting Pool and Independence Avenue SW. It is inscribed with the names of DC residents who were killed in the Great War. The structure is in poor condition, with many cracks, stains, and chips in the marble, and a general air of being forgotten now that the veterans of WWI are gone. Note the tiny red buds of the maple tree at left, the first sign of early spring.” – Mr. T in DC

So who is to raise the money to fix the monument to these long dead men? No one. Why? Because, deep down, I mean really deep, deep down, who cares? All the veterans of that war are dead. No one even remembers we fought in the First World War. In fact, almost no one even knows there was a First War World. If someone really cared, it would already have been fixed.

I’m certain I will get nasty comments and emails because of what I have said about this decrepit monument in DC. But before you write me and give me hell and tell me I am a disgrace to America, remember that the headquarters of every national veterans group such as the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, along with lobbying organizations such as the US Navy League and the Association of the US Army, are all in metro DC. This news that this monument is falling down has been in the Washington Post a fair number of times in the last ten years. So far, no one can be bothered to do anything.

If the truth be told, we had no business fighting in World War One. It would have been better for Western Europe if the Germans had actually won. Then there wouldn’t have been Hitler and the Second World War. But that is for another post. I end this post by saying that the words one sees on the war memorials to every war: “You Are Not Forgotten” are not true.

Update – After I wrote this, Tad mentioned that renovations have recently begun on the DC War Memorial. Here are some news stories regarding this (Washington Times; CNN) and a picture Tad took yesterday.

DC War Memorial 20 January 2011

Update 2 – Reader Gary B pointed out that while the VFW has lobbying offices in DC, their national headquarters is actually located in Kansas City, MO. Consequently, I had Tad double-check the info for the American Legion and found that it falls in the same category – lobbying offices in DC but their national headquarters is located elsewhere, Indianapolis, IN to be specific. Thanks again to Gary for catching this.

[Image courtesy of Mr. T in DC.]

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website:

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