- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 22, 2001

In the next year, around 400,000 of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II will likely die. These war heroes, whose acts of courage protected innocent lives in America and across the world, may not even have the ability to see the cornerstone placed on a memorial on the National Mall that would commemorate their sacrifices. This, after 22 public hearings and over eight years of debate. Sen. Tim Hutchinson led an attempt yesterday to stop the bureaucratic haranguing and let the American Battle Monuments Commission get on with it. He, and Rep. Bob Stump, the Republican from Arizona who pushed a similar version of the bill through the House last week, are to be commended.

The bill would pave the way for the swift construction of the war memorial at the current location of the Rainbow Pool, between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. It would also void a lawsuit that is now being processed in federal court to prevent the construction. It would stop a continual cycle of revisiting the debate, especially by the National Capitol Planning Commission, which has had to approve and reapprove the project with every new debate during the past eight years since Congress first passed a bill allowing the land to be used for the memorial.

Critics complain that politicians are trying to ram the legislation through, and that the construction is too obtrusive or not heroic enough. These doomsayers have either been asleep for the last eight-plus years of debate, or they have never seen a model of the memorial, which has gone through many transformations in the last years. The final version, designed by Friedrich St. Florian, is a celebratory combination of water and light, with 56 granite pillars, two 41-foot arches and a sunken plaza with miniature fountains and waterfalls. The design frames, rather than obstructs, the view of the Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol. As for the complaint that the monument is not suited to the veterans´ bravery, the Field of Gold Stars and a 47-foot high Memorial Arch appropriately celebrate the lives of the Americans who served their country. If the bill passes in the Senate, and President Bush signs it next week, the construction would likely start before the end of the year, according to Mr. Hutchinson´s office. Construction would take approximately two years.

As this page goes to print, the bill has not passed in the Senate and the doomsayers are still working hard to throw up roadblocks. It is a commemoration of heroes they are fighting against. This Memorial Day, the critics could not have picked a worse way to say thank you to the thousands of veterans who risked their lives. Let´s hope those who recognize the honor due the U.S. servicemen prevail, and soon.

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