- The Washington Times - Friday, September 22, 2000

The proposed World War II Memorial cleared its final hurdle last night, gaining approval from the National Capital Planning Commission to break ground between the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument.
Cheers erupted from a crammed hearing room after the 12-member panel, which must approve all monuments built on the Mall, voted 7-5 to proceed.
The vote ended a long and sometimes contentious day, as more than 100 veterans, representatives of civic groups and residents testified for and against the memorial's planned location and design.
"It's time, folks," said Stanley A. Wojtusik, vice president of the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge. "Stop this repetitious whining."
He was one of many speakers including former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole who stressed the need to get moving on the project, with more than 1,000 World War II veterans dying each day. Groundbreaking is scheduled for Veterans Day.
"We want this to be dignified," said Mr. Dole, a World War II veteran. "We know not many of us [veterans] will see it."
Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, making her own impassioned plea before the commission against the idea, called the proposal a "confused set of half-baked notions."
Efforts to bring the $100 million memorial to Washington have taken more than a decade, through countless hearings, sketches and fund-raisers. One speaker noted yesterday that it is taking longer to build the monument than it took to fight the war.
While most everyone at the hearing agreed on the need to salute the 16 million men and women who served in the military during World War II especially the 400,000 who died they disagree about the details.
The memorial will sit on 7.4 acres at the Rainbow Pool, at the east end of the Reflecting Pool.
Critics contend the memorial will obstruct the view along the Mall's center line and further clutter the area. Others, including Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, Hawaii Democrat, insist World War II is the greatest event of the 20th century and deserves such a regal location.
Friedrich St. Florian, the design architect, said hard surfaces will take up only 30 percent of the total acreage.
"You can look at it from anywhere on the Mall from the outside and you can look straight through it," he said.
The designed height of the monument already has been lowered in response to criticism that it would block the view between the Washington and Lincoln memorials.
The architect's speech didn't win over D.C. resident Jim McGrath, who called the process "one of the greatest land grabs in history."
Shaky-voiced veteran Russell Stumpe garnered applause for stating: "I agree that a monument should be built, but not this monument at this site."
The finished monument would resemble an oval with a sunken plaza and a 43-foot arch at the north and south ends commemorating the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. The center would be recessed 6 feet deep, outlined by 56 17-foot pillars.
In addition, the memorial would feature a Wall of Freedom bedecked with gold stars commemorating servicemen who died. Two waterfalls are planned for the lower level so as not to block the view of other monuments.
Both the site and design were approved by the nation's largest veterans organization, the 2.8-million-member American Legion.
Mr. St. Florian explained some revisions to the final plan, including moving the Light of Freedom sculpture from the western side of the plaza to the center of the Rainbow Pool. The commission last night said it wants to see the sculpture before approving it.
"This design enhances the Mall's representation of American history," said Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Ohio Democrat, who first proposed the monument in 1987. "It retains open vistas north and south, as well as east and west. It adds trees, plantings and waterfalls."
Opponents called the design "frightening," "vacuous" and something resembling architecture from Nazi Germany. They complained that the memorial tells less about the war than the existing monument to World War II-era President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The project is estimated to take 2 and 1/2 years and $100 million to complete. Organizers plan to dedicate it on Memorial Day 2003.
"I think it provides a proper kind of setting for such a momentous event," said Harvey B. Gantt, chairman of the commission. "I think it happens to be something that's an enhancement to the Mall."

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