David DeJonge was asked by the last WWI Veteran Frank Buckles to fight for a National WWI Memorial on the National Mall.
“This was the dying wish of the last doughboy. We frequently held hands and discussed this. He was adamant that it not be at Pershing Park and had to be on the mall,” DeJonge stated.
Last week the WWI Centennial Commission had a ceremonial ‘groundbreaking’ at Pershing Park. The park is an urban park located about a 30 minute walk from the National Mall, surrounded by 5 lanes of traffic and immense berms that are immovable.
“The park has been found eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places and essentially can’t be altered. As a result the WWICC is left with an area in the bottom of the old ice rink. They will refill the pond, add a flag pole and place a sculpture about 15-20 feet below street level.”
This effort has been fought from the beginning from architects, landscape groups and preservationists to protect this historic park. Thursday the VFW and American Legion gave $300,000 each to the new National World War I Memorial at Pershing Park. Neither final approval or permits have been issued for construction.
DeJonge is working on getting a proposal to President Trump asking that he cancel Pershing Park and place it on the National Mall next to the WWII Memorial where 2,000,000 people visit each month.
By trade DeJonge is a photographer based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He documented the last WWI Veterans and unveiled his work in the Pentagon on March 6, 2008. After that event Buckles and DeJonge visited the mall where he asked DeJonge to get a National WWI Memorial there.
“I will keep my word. Frank Buckles told me the most important lesson in life is to keep your word. I will,” said DeJonge.
“As a fellow artist I feel absolutely devastated that the architect Joe Weishaar was promised a prize and ended up refilling a pond with his talent- he deserves better.”
The effort to fight for the mall was offered to the WWI Centennial Commission last week and they refused to help.
For more information, please visit: www.CrystalHadnott.com
Company Name: World War One Memorial Foundation
Contact Person: David DeJonge
City: Grand Rapids
Country: United States