Wednesday, January 19, 2022

DC's National WW I Memorial, Incomplete and Worth A Visit

A few weeks ago Shira and I were traipsing through DC when we stumbled upon the National World War I memorial. This was surprising as I had no idea DC had a such a memorial. Apparently, until recently, we didn't. The location is a sort of expansion of Pershing Park, which has been in place since the 1980's and honors General Pershing and the 2 million(!) members of the American Expeditionary Force he lead during World War I.

Eventually, I'd find myself standing in front a plaque that would explain the in-progress nature of the memorial. But before I did, I found myself face to face with A Soldier's Journey, a massive mural that attempts to capture the soldier's experience during World War I.

I was taken aback by the choice of using a rough sketch to capture the scene. But at the same time, it worked. As I stared at the mural in front me I struggled to square the simplicity of materials and techniques with the awesome emotive power that it brought to bear.

As I looked closer, I realized that this wasn't just a rough sketch. It was a rough sketch done on a tarp like material that was then bolted into place.


A plaque at an elevated position in the memorial cleared up the confusion. A Soldier's Journey is going to be bronze statue; the rough sketch is a temporary place holder.

I'm sure the completed bronze relief will be impressive. But I'd recommend stopping by while the sketch is in place. I'm telling you, there's something magical about watching something so simple say so much.

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