The WW II Memorial--Yes, It WorksRoundup: Talking About History
Benjamin Forgey, in the Wash Post (April 25, 204):
The best things about the National World War II Memorial are its precise placement on the Mall and the abiding sense of place that comes with the honored location.
As sensitively designed by architect Friedrich St. Florian, the memorial frames majestic views of the Lincoln Memorial to the west and the Washington Monument to the east. It is thus securely anchored within the Mall's national narrative. World War II, the cataclysmic event that altered the 20th century, certainly deserves such recognition.
The official dedication will take place on Memorial Day, May 31, but the $174 million project is almost done -- "ahead of schedule and under budget," in the words of Gen. P.X. Kelley, chairman of the American Battle Monuments Commission. Consequently, the commission is promising a soft opening as soon as this week, though the date is not certain.
There is, to be sure, something a bit stiff about the memorial's classically inspired design. A whiff of the academic informs the relentless mirror-image march of semicircular stone pillars -- 28 to a side, each ornamented with a pair of bronze wreaths -- that define its central plaza.
St. Florian may have been thinking a bit too much of the work of Otto Wagner, the great Viennese architect of 100 years ago. The difference, I suppose, is that Wagner, with his elegant austerity, was looking forward, while St. Florian, with his memorial design, is too keen on looking back.
And, yes, there are a few other faults a reasonable critic could find with the design. Though the quotations incised in its crisp granite blocks in the main are appropriately informative and moving, the memorial makers did get carried away with words in a couple of key places.
More telling, perhaps, is the possibility that the great paved plaza, measuring 337 feet north to south, lacks a true center of gravity, a place where the enormity of the war and the sacrifices made to win it undeniably grasps your heart. The intention is there in the wall of 4,000 gold stars, each signifying 100 military deaths, centered between two low waterfalls at the western edge of the plaza. But this wall, noble in intent, does not possess quite the emotional force one might have expected or wished.
Please note, however, my hesitation. On my first visit I felt this absence
strongly, yet on repeated acquaintance I became less and less troubled by it.
Moving about on foot is what this memorial is designed for, and the more I paced
and considered each element in its turn, the more convinced I became, emotionally
and intellectually, by the totality of the place.
comments powered by Disqus
- Rubio Surges Into Second In New Hampshire
- Branstad Says Cruz Ran ‘Unethical’ Campaign
- Christie Highlights Santorum’s Endorsement of Rubio
- Portman Comes Out Against Trade Deal
- Megyn Kelly Gets a Book Deal
- A Big List of the Bad Things Clinton Has Done
- An Unambiguous Sign Sanders Won Last Night’s Debate
- Still Friends at the End
- Quote of the Day
- Trump Still Leads as Clinton Slips
- Clinton Can’t Shake Image as Wall Street’s Friend
- Maddow Doesn’t See Sanders Winning
- Why Does the Media Still Shield Chelsea Clinton?
- Bush Jokes His Mother May Have Abused Him
- Rubio Closes the Gap in New Hampshire
- Transcribed Document: Soviet Politburo Discussed CIA Billion Dollar Spy Adolf Tolkachev
- Pentagon withholds Iraq War photos showing detainee abuse
- These Rebels Have Amassed A Library From Syria’s Ruins
- Was 1916 fire at Canadian Parliament set by German saboteur?
- United Nations Calls On U.S. To Pay African Americans Reparations For Slavery
- Juan Cole says America’s inclination to turn to the military started with Manifest Destiny
- History Jobs Drop
- Paul Krugman gives credence to Robert J. Gordon's pessimism about American economic growth
- Harvard President Drew Faust Condemns Free Tuition Proposal from Outsider Overseers Ticket
- Andrew Roberts says Trump is the Mussolini of America with double the vulgarity