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Commission Selects Finalists for World War I Memorial Project

By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

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WASHINGTON, Aug. 19, 2015 — An independent panel has selected five finalists to design a memorial to honor the World War I generation in the nation’s capital.

The five were selected from more than 350 proposals sent to the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission. The winning design will be selected in January 2016.

The finalists are: “Plaza to the Forgotten War,” submitted by Andrew Cesarz, Johnsen Schmaling Architects; “World War One Memorial Concept” by Devin Kimmel; “The Weight of Sacrifice” by Joseph Weishaar; “An American Family Portrait Wall in the Park” by Luis Collado, Jose Luis de la Fuente, Jose Luis Perez-Griffo, Ignacio Espigares, Marta Bueno, Shoko Nakamura, of STL Architects; and “Heroes’ Green” by: Maria Counts.

The proposed site for the World War I Memorial is Pershing Park on Pennsylvania Avenue between 14th and 15th Streets N.W. It is one block from the White House with a clear view of the U.S. Capitol down Pennsylvania Ave. In the park there is presently a statue of General of the Armies John J. Pershing -- the leader of the American Expeditionary Force during World War I.

The five finalists will now work in consultation with the commission, public agencies and other stakeholders to develop and refine their initial design concepts. At the end of Stage II, the jury will make recommendations to the World War I Commission, which expects to announce a winning design concept in January 2016.

The “War to End All Wars” began in 1914 and lasted more than four years. More than 17 million people had died by the time the armistice ended fighting, Nov. 11, 1918, and another 20 million had been wounded. The United States entered the war April 7, 1917, and at wars’ end, more than 4 million Americans had joined the military, with 2 million serving “over there.”

A total of 116,516 Americans were killed in the war, and more than 204,000 wounded. The war caused the fall of empires and redrew world maps. The German Empire, the Russian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire fell as a result of the war. Decisions emanating from that war still affect the world today.

The World War One Centennial Commission was established by the World War One Centennial Commission Act, part of Public Law 112-272 passed by the 112th Congress and signed by President Barack Obama Jan. 16, 2013, according to the commission’s web site.

The commission is responsible for planning, developing, and executing programs, projects, and activities to commemorate the centennial of the first world war; including encouraging private organizations and state and local governments to organize and participate in commemorative activities; facilitating and coordinating activities throughout the United States relating to the centennial; serving as a clearinghouse for the collection and dissemination of information about events and plans for the centennial; and developing recommendations for Congress and the president for commemorating the centennial. The commissioners serve without pay.

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)