Dedicated in 1931 with the greatest of fanfare, the World War I Memorial now sits along the Tidal Basin in crumbling ruin, no longer honoring the men who gave their lives, limbs, sanity and youth for their country.  Its condition falls far beyond shabby and seedy.  It is our National Disgrace.  We have dishonored our WWI veterans by allowing this once proud monument to stand in such ill-repair.

When the monument was dedicated in 1931, John Phillip Sousa conducted the dedication and President Herbert Hoover was in attendance.  Time, however, has not been kind to this 78 year old dedication to the national triumph of good over evil. The following video gives us a glimpse:

Yesterday the Department of Interior announced that $7.3 million dollars will go towards the restoration of the World War I Memorial! Not only will this momument undergo a face lift, but many other of our monuments and national treasures will undergo restoration.

According to the Washington Post:

Yesterday, the Department of the Interior announced that the government will spend $7.3 million on its restoration, along with $69.5 million in the Washington region to fix other eyesores, repair the Jefferson Memorial seawall and rehabilitate infrastructure in Rock Creek Park.

More than $30 million will go to fix the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool, and several million will go to the Jefferson Memorial, where the seawall has been slowly slipping into the Tidal Basin for years.

The government will also spend $12 million on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, about $3 million on Arlington House, the historic mansion in Arlington Cemetery, and $5 million on Rock Creek Park, the department said.

Outside the immediate area, it will spend $9.4 million on historic overlooks along Skyline Drive, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, and $108,000 to preserve headstones at the Antietam Civil War battlefield, near Sharpsburg, Md.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the funding is part of $750 million for the nation’s parks that comes from this year’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The money will go to 750 park projects across the country, he said.

The beleaguered Mall has an almost $400 million maintenance backlog, and Congress stripped $200 million in similar rehabilitation funding from stimulus legislation in January.

Now funding is back. The department said it picked worthy repair projects from national parks across the country.

Strange that during more conservative times more hasn’t been done to preserve our national treasures.  There  is something about taking care of what you have, having good stewardship of the earth, and guarding that which makes us uniquely American  that should be a sign of having good National Values. If restoration work is considered ‘tax and spend,’ then go for it! We owe this one to many veterans of another era who were just as American as we are.

25 Thoughts to “Saving the National Disgrace”

  1. Second-Alamo

    I heartily agree. I found it very interesting that you used the phrase “guarding that which makes us uniquely American” in your post. That describes very well what I’ve been trying to get through to some here on this site. We are rapidly losing that which makes us ‘uniquely American’ as the numbers of immigrants in society increase at an exponential rate. Many have questioned what is ‘being American’, and perhaps it is monuments such as this that represent that which is difficult to describe.

  2. Poor Richard

    There is a monument to the Prince William County fallen from
    WWI in front of the old Courthouse in Manassas. I remember
    the debate, a few years ago ago, when the weather damaged
    original needed to be replaced. The Historical folks wanted
    an exact replica while others noted that keeping the “(Colored)”
    designation to some names wasn’t the right way to go in
    a modern PWC/Manassas. After much debate, the latter path was
    chosen. (You can also see a cannon from the Spanish-American
    War there and a Peace Pole).

  3. Moon-howler

    Poor Richard, thanks for that reminder. I am glad that they went with the latter. I am generally not in favor of political correctness replacing history but the (colored) distinction really serves no purpose. Perhap[s reference to it in the museum is where something like that belongs. I felt the same way about the original state song. It was an embarrassment. I do not feel the same way about flags however, when used in a historical sense.

  4. Moon-howler

    SA, Do you think that what makes us uniquely American changes over time, and there is a collection of what makes us American that is anchored down and encapsulated while at the same time allowing room for newness? I don’t know. But I think those boys who went off to the Civil War were somehow different than those who marched off to WWI and those boys were different than those who were scattered all over the world during WWII.

    I think what we need is balance. We need to make room for new things American, which we have always done but at the same time remaining very vigilant to preserve the old. I think perhaps younger people are more adaptable to change.

    I wouldn’t be comfortable with the America I grew up with as a child. There needed to be change. (perhaps not quite as much…but I am sure that most people of my generation feel that way). Censored???? You out there? Weigh in on this one.

  5. Censored bybvbl

    M-h, I agree that there needed to be a change. As an out-of-place Yankee, I can’t say that I was comfortable in America even then. As a woman denied entrance to the state schools that my tax dollars supported, I wasn’t keen on all Virginia tradition either. I’m one of those persons who feel that a definitive, all encompassing description of “American” doesn’t exist except that we all live on the American continents. Even our great wars could be seen from different perspectives by residents of the US. I’m sure there are citizens of German and Japanese descent that have different memories of what being American meant during part of our collective history. And I’m sure there were people who learned to appreciate native Americans better after their huge contribution to winning WWII.

    I think you’re correct about younger people adapting to change better. They don’t fret about the same issues as we geezers/geezerettes do. They have another outlook on “American”. Who knows? Maybe its an inherent personality trait. Some people need order, routine, tradition and some folks don’t. Some need that definition clearly stated and for some it’s flexible. (And somehow I think some of those most strongly in favor of defining “American” are also those who don’t want to shell out their tax dollars to maintain “art” or statuary. I know, the broad brush…)

  6. Opinion


    You know, Second Alamo, my family has been here since around 1632 (crewed the Mayflower a couple of times and finally got off at Cape Cod). I’m probably 1/32nd every European Country (English, Irish, Scottish, Dutch, German, etc, etc, etc,) The thing that makes us “uniquely American” is our Diversity. I think that which makes us “uniquely American” is our ability to assimilate new cultures, customs, and ideas. If you have any doubt, try finding a shopping center without a Chinese Restaurant, a Pizza Parlor, or a Taco place. I’ve noticed a lot of Afghan Restaurants added to the mix and Vietnamese “pho shops” are now everywhere. Unless you’re a Native American, you’re an Immigrant (like most of the rest of us). My advice… embraces our evolving diversity! THAT is what makes us “uniquely American”.

  7. Moon-howler

    So we have migrated to discussing what does uniquely American mean? That seems like as good of a topic as any. What are our uniquely American treasures and what makes us uniquely American? Inquiring minds what to know. Yes, I am trying to wake this thread up and nudge it back to life….

  8. Punchak

    #1 – Second Alamo

    Wouldn’t you know that SA just had to stress something about immigrants?
    Being “uniquely American” means, IMHO, that you appreciate the mixture of nationalities (I refuse to use the word RACE) that make up the population of the United States of America. Most of those who have come here would like nothing more than to be “uniquely American” given the chance.

  9. Punchak


    How do you know that your family crewed on the Mayflower a couple of time? Going back and forth?

    I find this fixation, and maybe expecting admiration, about having ancestors who came here on the Mayflower very strange. Really, why should anyone care HOW you came here? I’ll bet a lot of sailors who were not crewing on the Mayflower jumped ship and settled here.

    America was the place where the streets were paved with gold; everybody wanted to come here. And they still do.

  10. Moon-howler

    I don’t think the gold paving got here before the Mayflower, at least not as far north as they sailed. Many people have family records that put them with the Mayflower. I think it is important to the person, the same as being descended from Henry VIII might be.

    Some people have a keen interest in their roots and in genealogy in general. I have met a wonderful resource, because of his interest. He knows more about my mother’s family than anyone I have ever met. His wife and I are extremely distant cousins. It is just his interest. I lose track of all the begats.

    The America the Pilgrims/Puritans and the Jamestown settlers found sure was inhospitable. The fact that any of them survived at all is a miracle to me. Maybe that is why people are so proud. My husband has a Mayflower patriarch on one side and an Irish immigrant grandmother on the other side. I don’t think he is prouder of one than the other. Both had mighty accomplishments, each in his or her own way.

  11. DB

    Genealogy is a cool thing when one can find the existence of their ancestors. Here’s a few headlines from the times in NYC, for my great uncle: Military Funeral Probably for Harry Brady, Bronx Aviator, Dead After Everglades Crash; Military Funeral Tommorrow for Bronx Flier Killed in Florida Plane Crash; Airplanes Hover Over Our lady of Solace Church at Funeral Services for Late Bronx Flyer. And the articles prior to his death: NY Times 02/26/1927: Man and Wife Die in Airplane Crash. And my great uncle’s obit on 03/19/1927: Brady, Aeronaut Dies of Injuries. And at my great uncle’s funeral there was a Father Sullivan who was known as the “flying parson” of the army air service during “the war” (wwI). Would never have known this or had documentation until I did the research. Then in the course of my research I came upon a photo album of one of my great uncle’s trip to FLA via car in 1923. I actually ahve a photo of Orlando,Fla in the 1920’s which depicts the town as nothing more than a dirt road and a gat with a sign that reads “Welcome to Orlando”.

  12. DB

    spellcheck..gate, have..sorry typing too fast.

  13. Second-Alamo

    So then it is America that is unique, and not the people who compose its population. Having said that, then what makes America different from any other country, and how do we ensure that uniqueness continues? If we become just a sampling of other countries characteristics, then how will we then be unique? I believe the uniqueness is that we all (or at least most) aspire to become Americans without really knowing what it means to be American, and yet we seem to achieve it anyway. Kind of strange if you take the time to think about it.

  14. DB

    What makes Harry Brady unique is that he was yet another son of an Irish immigrant during the late 1800’s who grew up with a father that had to leave his home in Ireland in an effort to support his family there and his family in the US. And somehow, despite his father’s illiteracy, he became educated, and did something with his education. So yes, in a way America is unique, in the mere fact that a boy, with illiterate parents, made something of himself…got an education etc. The opportunities he encountered in US, and the educational possibilities available to him here in the late 1880’s and early 1900’s would never been open to him in Ballinamore Ireland, so yes America is unique because the options are what have allowed our ancestors to live here.

  15. Moon-howler

    SA, good point. We don’t really know what it means but somehow most of us strive towards this intangible goal.

    DB, Thanks for a neat story. And your answer is certainly as good as any other.

    Do you all think all generations have felt that America is going to hell in a hand bucket? Does America just not look so good in real time?

  16. Punchak

    We are in a time of world migration. Very few countries are unique any more. Big groups of Sudanese in Maine. The Scandinavian countries are getting less and less “blond”. Italy and Spain are getting loads of North Africans and, of course, France has the Algerians. France used to rule Algeria and are now reaping the fruits of colonialism.

    Holland has to cope with a lot of Indonesians. The Dutch are reaping the fruit too. = Scandinavia is trying to cope with the east Europeans finally set free from the Soviet bonds, who can’t find work in their own countries.

    I listened to old Brent Scowcroft today on Charlie Rose’s program. His take on what’s going on in the world and how we have to change our views was an eye opener. He made so much sense.

  17. Moon-howler

    SA, I read this brief review early this morning. Knowing that you are somewhat of a peer, how do feel about the idea that the real movers and shakers might have been the half generation before the baby boomers?
    This is an older review I stumbled on. Actually, this thread taught me something–it taught me how very little I really know about WWI. I am a boomer. Every conversation in my childhood home began with, ‘During the war…..’

  18. Moon-howler

    Many immigrants are leaving European countries because the jobs have dried up.

    See NY Times story.

    As Jobs Die, Europe’s Migrants Head Home

  19. Punchak

    Thanks, MH

    Very, very interesting article.

  20. Poor Richard

    The simple monument in front of the old Court House in Manassas reads:

    Dedicated to the citizens of Prince William County who lost their
    lives in the service of their country in the World War 1917-1919.

    Then there are twenty-six names listed alphabetically – starting
    with Fewell Athey and ending with Kemp Williams.

  21. Opinion


    Actually, Punchak, my family records go back to the 14th Century. We have very good records of my family’s migration to the United States. There’s both a town and lake named after my ancestor in Massachusetts (which helps document my family history). My ancestor was a second son (of Landed Gentry with a peerage). If you know anything about English history, second sons didn’t count for much. They usually either entered the priesthood, a monastery, or (in the 17th Century) struck out for the new world. My ancestor joined the ranks of people fleeing prosecution, folks seeking religious freedom, and an assortment of adventurers, entrepreneurs, and a few fleeing perhaps less than stellar backgrounds. The reliance is, I believe my family is a prime example of what is “uniquely American”: a variety of people from other countries coming here (without such a thing as “illegal immigrant” status or worries about “citizenship”) trying to find a better life. Folks like these are the reason you enjoy the “uniquely American” lifestyle that exists today… and… IMHO… we aren’t done evolving. I spend my free time learning Spanish to continue my part in the evolution of our society.

    If family history is a fixation, just call me “fixated.” I’m guessing we all share an interest in where we come from. My question is why does my history bother you so much you feel compelled to comment on it?

  22. Moon-howler

    Opinion, 14th century is pretty impressive. You have me beat by a few centuries.

  23. Moon-howler

    Side by Side presented to last living U.S. World War I veteran

    Frank Buckles, age 108, lives in Charles Town West VA. He is the only survivor of WWI. He went in at age 16, lying about his age.

  24. Punchak


    I’m not bothered in the least. What made you make that statement? Not that it matters.

  25. Opinion

    Punchak :Opinion
    I’m not bothered in the least. What made you make that statement? Not that it matters.

    Well, Punchak, since you asked… I guess I misunderstood your statement, “I find this fixation, and maybe expecting admiration, about having ancestors who came here on the Mayflower very strange. Really, why should anyone care HOW you came here? I’ll bet a lot of sailors who were not crewing on the Mayflower jumped ship and settled here.”

    In any case, you’re right… it really doesn’t matter.

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