Mendelson makes move against nationalizing D.C. memorial

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Local,DC,Liz Farmer

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson wants the Council to push back against a federal proposal to turn the D.C. War Memorial into a national WWI memorial.

The chairman on Tuesday proposed a council resolution that would "recognize the District of Columbia War Memorial as the District's memorial on the National Mall and to promote Pershing Park as a National World War I Memorial."

The fight is over a bill pending in Congress that would change the District's memorial to one commemorating all Americans who served in the war. D.C. officials have turned the dispute into a voting rights issue, saying that the feds not only deny city residents Congressional representation now they're also taking away a city memorial built and paid for by local taxpayers.

D.C. Del. Eleanor Norton has described the effort as an "attack" on the District.

"It seems denying representation isn't enough," Norton said this January at a press conference unveiling a restored District memorial.

City leaders say that if Congress is looking to usurp an already-existing memorial, they should use one that's federally owned and operated, namely Pershing Park. However the District's memorial is on the National Mall. Pershing Park is two blocks north of the mall, across the street from the E Street White House security entrance.

"Pershing Park already contains many attractive elements to commemorate the AEF including a handsome sculpture of their leader General Pershing, detailed maps and descriptions of significant military campaigns, an attractive water feature, seating, and lighting. Pershing Park could be modestly improved to include additional interpretive elements such as waysides, and a sculpture to depict the personnel of various branches of service," the resolution says.

lfarmer@washingtonexaminer.com

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