New York State doughboys retuning home, August 1919

Empire State doughboys retuning home: Oriskany Falls, August 1919

Blake Seitz of the Washington Free Beacon has written an informative piece about the ongoing project to build a national First World War memorial in Washington D.C. Some readers may know that the WW1 Centennial Commission has been working on this endeavor for some time now, and that the competition is now down to five selections. A winner will be chosen in January. Whichever design wins, there will undoubtedly be a few bugs and details to be worked out. Still, the process has gone fairly well so far. Seitz captures well the purposes of U.S. war memorials, especially how the ones in our nation’s capital reflect the times in which they were built and the individual conflicts they commemorate. There is a reason Lincoln is etched larger than life in granite and the Vietnam Wall stretches semi-below ground with its fatalities listed one-by-one in chronological order. As Centennial Commission Ed Fountain points out in the article, the Great War’s ambiguity has been one of the major reasons it has taken so long to build a national World War 1 memorial in Washington.

It was not always this way. In the 1920s and 30s Americans built approximately 10,000 tablets, memorials and statues across the country. D.C. itself had its own memorial, commissioned in 1924 and finished in 1931 in honor of the men from Washington City who served and died Over There. These were all locals projects however. The Depression and rise of Hitler eventually took away whatever enthusiasm there was to remember the events of 1914-18. I strongly urge you to read Seitz’s article.

(image/Oneida County Historical Society)