- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 21, 2000

The federal commission that approves all monuments built on the Mall is scheduled to decide today the fate of a controversial location and design for the $100 million World War II Memorial.
The National Capital Planning Commission's final approval would allow construction to begin as early as November, perhaps on Veterans Day.
More than 100 speakers have signed up to testify before the vote at the commission's offices at 801 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
Veterans and politicians agree 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 but they disagree over the proposed memorial.
"We don't want that mistake as a legacy," said John Graves, an infantryman in the European theater and co-chairman of World War II Veterans to Save the Mall. "We're trying to memorialize what we accomplished to save the planet. We don't want it to be embarrassing."
He and others have protested the selected site, which borders the Reflecting Pool between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, expressing concern that another memorial will clutter the Mall.
But Retired Maj. Gen. John Herrling, secretary of the American Battle Monument Commission, told veterans Friday during a wreath-laying ceremony, "There is no site in America more appropriate to represent your sacrifices and achievements."
The commission was selected to head the effort when Congress authorized construction of a World War II memorial in 1993.
Also at issue is the design an oval that would create a plaza with a 41-foot arch at the north and south ends commemorating the Atlantic and Pacific theaters of war. The center would be built 6 feet deep, and 56 17-foot pillars would outline the oval.
In addition, the memorial would feature a Wall of Freedom bedecked with 400 gold stars one star for each 1,000 servicemen who died and 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.
D.C. Council member Sharon Ambrose, Ward 6 Democrat, insists the design "trivializes" the war effort and reminds her of architecture from the Third Reich.
"It is P.T. Barnum on the Mall," she said.
The council member joined Mr. Graves and other opponents outside One Judiciary Square yesterday to urge D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams, who is a member of the planning commission, to cast his vote against the 7.4-acre memorial at today's hearing.
Mrs. Ambrose said the other members of the commission's D.C. delegation are on their side, including D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp, at-large Democrat.
The 12-member commission includes five members with experience in the city or regional planning, three of whom are appointed by the president and two by the mayor.
Mrs. Ambrose also said she spoke for council members David Catania, at-large Republican, and Phil Mendelsohn, at-large Democrat, both of whom, like herself, are not commission members.
D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat and the District's nonvoting representative in Congress, has been another vocal critic.
Mr. Williams is in Sydney, Australia, for the Olympics and will not be attending the hearing. His office said Andrew Altman, the city's director of the Office of Planning, will take his place.
The designed height of the monument already has been lowered in response to criticism that it would block the view between the Lincoln and Washington memorials.
Efforts to bring this memorial to the Mall have taken more than a decade, through countless hearings, sketches and fund-raisers.
The project is estimated to take 2 and 1/2 years to build and $100 million to complete. Organizers plan to dedicate it on Memorial Day 2003.
If the planning commission approves the proposal, the National Coalition to Save Our Mall plans to challenge the decision in federal court, citing violations of the National Environment Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act.

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