Renovated WWI memorial unveiled in DC

Overdue far too long, the restoration of the District of Columbia War Memorial was officially completed Thursday, some 80 years after it was first dedicated.

The elegant, columned, 47-foot-tall domed structure just west of the World War II Memorial honors the 20,000 Washington residents who served in World War I, and the 499 who died during the 1914-1918 conflict, according to the Washington Post.

It is the closest thing to a national World War I monument in the US. Today, of course, marks the 93rd anniversary of the end of First World War.

Situated off the national mall, just last summer the monument was water stained and time weathered, sitting amid overgrown trees, surrounded by puddles and cracked pavement.

“For too many years it was a lonely orphan on this part of the Mall,” Edwin L. Fountain, vice president of the World War I Memorial Foundation, told an audience at Thursday’s reopening ceremony. “It was a forgotten memorial to a forgotten war.”

But through the efforts of, among others, D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Fountain’s foundation and the Trust for the National Mall, money for repairs was made available through federal stimulus funding, $3.6 million altogether.

The memorial’s stone was cleaned and damage fixed. The landscape and fieldstone walkways were restored. And the memorial’s long-vanished metal floor medallion was replaced with a bronze replica, according to the Post.

The monument was originally paid for by local residents and is the only District memorial on the Mall, although it is now cared for by the National Park Service.

At its dedication 80 years ago, President Herbert Hoover and World War I hero Army Gen. John J. Pershing were on hand.

According to the Congressional Research Service, more than 4.7 million Americans served in World War I and more than 116,000 died in the conflict, which ended in 1918.

The last American veteran of the Great War, Frank Buckles, died earlier this year at age 110.

(Above: District of Columbia World War I Memorial. Photo by Washington Post.)

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