War memorial plan provokes a row all out of proportion

They're planning a spanking new Second World War monument here. But as with almost every memorial in Washington, the project has sparked a conflict scarcely less fearsome than the one it is meant to commemorate.

This week, Bob Dole, the defeated 1996 Republican presidential candidate who was almost killed by a German shell in 1945, formally launched a campaign to raise the $100m (pounds 61m) required for a suitable tribute to the war in which "America saved the world."

Few here would disagree with that sentiment, nor with the proposed design - a plaza enclosed by a 50-foot high colonnade and an embankment planted with white roses. The problem is the chosen site, on the Washington Mall right in the middle of one of the city's - and the country's - greatest vistas, stretching from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial.

"Just like Cinderella's stepsisters whose feet were too big for the glass slipper, World War Two is simply too big for this site," Senator Bob Kerry of Nebraska, decorated Vietnam war hero and arch-foe of the proposed site, declared in a letter to the country's Battle Monuments Commission. The editor of Architecture magazine went even further: The plan, Deborah Dietsch wrote, "dishonours" the ideals represented by the Mall. But such disputes are as predictable as the imminent flowering of the cherry trees along the Potomac River.

First there was the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial, re-opening painful divisions between those who insisted it was too self-effacing, and those who believed that that war needed no memorial at all. But if Vietnam, others argued, then why not Korea? And so, a Korean War memorial was duly built. Ah, but no women were featured in Vietnam 1, it was objected. Thus the adjoining new Vietnam Womens' Memorial.

Then a squabble erupted over the shrine to Franklin Roosevelt under construction close by. In the interests of historical accuracy, should not one of America's greatest presidents be portrayed in a wheelchair and with the familiar cigarette holder jutting from his mouth? (The answers, after much debate involving the disabled and the anti-smoking lobbies: Yes, and No).

And even the Holocaust Museum, with which no-one can surely quarrel, provoked a dispute. If butchered European Jewry should be so remembered, then why not an equal museum chronicling the uprootings and extermination of the American Indian?

But Mr Dole should not be discouraged. If controversy is certain, so is the outcome. The monuments get built in the end, and everybody loves them.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory