tv American History TV CSPAN August 30, 2014 9:15pm-10:01pm EDT
introduced legislation to congress that passed in the house but is awaiting action in the senate. this event from the national press club is about 45 minutes. >> welcome to the national press club. we are fortunate to have mr. edwin fountain discuss the world war i memorial. my name is tony gallo. i am your moderator. i am with the national press club. memorial e eisenhower now. that has been going on for years. we have no idea when the eisenhower memorial is being built. we have several of the but not a world war i memorial. therefore, there is much excitement about this project. just a few words about our
speaker. edwin fountain is a partner in the washington office of the international law firm jones day. he is the grandson of two world war i veterans. he cofounded the world war i memorial foundation. this led to the advocacy of a national world war i memorial on the mall. of 2013, he was appointed by harry reid to the u.s. world war i centennial commission. he was elected vice chairman of the commission in july of 2014. mr. fountain is a graduate of the university of north carolina, the london school of economics, and the university of virginia law school. mr. fountain. [applause] >> thank you, tony. good morning.
my name is edwin fountain. i am vice-chairman of the u.s. world war i centennial commission. the commission was formed by congress in january 2013 and given the mission of ensuring a suitable observation in this country of the centennial of the great war and more importantly of commemorating the service of american servicemen and women and educating the american public about the causes and consequences of that war. it has 12 members appointed by the president, majority and minority leaders of both houses of congress, the american legion, veterans of foreign wars, the national world war i museum in kansas city. i'm here to talk about the commission's proposal to establish a new national world war i memorial on pennsylvania avenue in the nation's capital. i would like to start with brief context about the history of this country's memorialization of its wars. those of us who work and live in washington are familiar with the great man approach to memorials. equestrian full of
and other statues to civil war and revolutionary war general's, other political leaders. park where we propose to establish a new memorial is sort of the last great man war memorials in the city erected in the late 1970's to john j pershing who commanded the american expedition a forces in world war i. after the civil war and after world war i, local communities around the country established memorials to their local residents who fought and died in the wars. those of us who grew up in the eastern half of the country are familiar with civil war memorials. they're silent sam on the campus of my university, a statue of the confederate soldier on washington street in old town alexandria here, the d.c. war memorial is a fine example of a local memorial to world war i. 1970's thatntil the we began thinking in terms of national war memorials, not to
the generals, but to the common soldiers in our nation's capital. the vietnam memorial was a game changer memorials in this country. by being a national memorial on the mall to the everyday soldier who fought and died in that war. we have been backfilling ever since. after the vietnam memorial came the korean veterans memorial and world war ii. we are now here talking about war one -- world war i. one difference is there is no living constituency. the last american veteran of world war i passed away three years ago at the age of 100 and. there is not a representation of veterans in congress. there is not representation of veterans on major corporations and foundations. it is a different challenge for us but when we think we can meet. i got involved in this effort some years ago when i decided to advocate for restoration of the war memorial on the mall which
had fallen into disrepair. that effort led me to talk about rededicating that memorial as a national and local world war i memorial on the mall. the question will come up, why pershing park, why don't you want to be on the mall? that is an excellent question. the commission thinks working from a blank slate, we would be on the mall. to congress enacted the commemorative works at to govern establishment and location of memorials and the nation's capital. nationale provides the mall is a completed work of civic art and there shall be no new memorials, monuments, museums, visitor centers on the mall except for those rent fathered in such as the world war ii memorial, the martin luther king jr. memorial, and the proposed museum and visitor center at the vietnam veterans memorial. formed and fought for to get a national world war i memorial on the mall, but the
werenment leadership strongly opposed to that proposal. the national park service and others that are stewards of the mall were opposed to that proposal. when it came time for the commission to think about the establishment of the memorial, we decided not to fight a losing battle by trying to be on the mall. we chose to propose redevelopment pershing park. for those of you not familiar with the pershing park, it is located one block away from the national press club. you can see the picture on the upper left of this board. that is an overhead shot. pershing park is bounded on the southern edge by pennsylvania avenue across the street from the department of commerce. it is between 14th and 15th streets. the northern edge is pennsylvania avenue next to the willard hotel and the oxidant to restaurant. it is a prime location. what isrs one end of
the most significant concourse in the nation's capital, pennsylvania avenue. from pershing park, you have a direct line of sight to the capitol dome. it is one block away from the white house and from the treasury department. a symbolically important location which is why it was chosen in the first place, as a memorial to john pershing and the american expeditionary force. he could receive a lot of foot people visiting the white house and other sites in this part of town. this is located a few blocks off the mall. to us, it is a highly important location. one we think merits a significant memorial and one we think will do justice to the veterans of world war i. we prefer the mall, but we deal the -- play the cards we are dealt. location aside, there are serious drawbacks to memorial site. a park with, it is
a world war i commemorative element located in it. the pershing memorial is tucked away in the lower right corner of that photograph in the southeast corner of that site. securedt of the park is from the street. it is elevated. there are 10 or 12 foot grass earthen berm's topped by stonewalls on that corner of the park. to the passerby, there's nothing inviting about the park. there is nothing that says world war i or pershing memorial. there is nothing that draws you in. the two sides of the park accessible to passersby are the western edge at the far edge of where the memorial element is. as you look in the park from 15th street, you don't see the memorial component. on the north edge, there is the taxi stand and a line of parking
spots that service the willard and other restaurants and hotels. it is very uninviting to passersby. there is nothing that draws you in. the second drawback to the current site is it is a history lesson more than a memorial. you see this wall. that has two very good maps and nice narrative text about the involvement of the united states in world war i. but there is no mention in the text of the servicemen who gave their lives turned the war. -- during the war. there is no mention of the fact the combat fatality rate in five months of fighting in world war i was twice that of world war ii. there was no mention that the -- america suffered more fatalities in five months than three years in korea or eight years of active combat in vietnam.
when i testified on the hill a few months ago on the bill that would authorize this memorial, there was testimony on a bill to add a feature to the korean war memorial. the advocate for that bill said with great emphasis that in korea, america lost 1000 minimum. -- 1000 men a month. in world war i, we lost 10,000 in the month. what people in this country do not know about world war i is what a bloody and savage war it was. they don't understand that american serviceman demonstrated -- servicemen demonstrated the same valor and heroism in world war i that they have in every other war this country fought. part of the mission is to educate the american people about that in addition to the broader geopolitical aspects of the war. the memorial there now is very unemotional. there is a statue of general
pershing with a pair of binoculars in his hands. he is not even riding a horse. with all the respect the designers of the memorial, it is a static, passive memorial that lacks any real pathos or humanity. you compare it to the vietnam memorial or the platoon of soldiers at the korea memorial or the tableaux at the grant memorial. each of those conveys something about the humanity of the warfare. this one, frankly, does not . it is a memorial to general pershing but not much else. those are some criticisms of the current site and why we think it needs to be not just redesignated as a national world war one memorial but reconceived and redeveloped.
right now, it is a part that happens to have a world war i commemorative feature. our objective is to make it a world war i memorial located in an urban park setting. we are alive to the fact this should be a working urban park. in my view, there will be three groups of people that will come to this memorial. first, the world war i enthusiasts who want to convey their respects to the veterans of world war i. second, the guests and other visitors who live or come to that part of town and want a nice urban oasis for lunch or to just take a breather. third, we hope that they will be here to see an iconic work of art, that will draw people in its own right, regardless of theme. that is our vision for the memorial. we have the sense not to have a
preconceived notion of what a design of this park would be as a new memorial. we anticipate and have already begun planning for a design competition. we anticipate -- tony mentioned the eisenhower memorial. i'm not involved in that process, but i have followed it to some extent. suffice it to say, we will do things differently that have been done with the eisenhower memorial. i anticipate that the commission will throw this open to an open design competition, much as was done with the vietnam memorial that yielded that stunning and surprising design that really changed the ground with respect to memorials in this country, and in the world indeed. that competition will most likely involve two rounds of competition, and open competition from which we will select a handful of finalists,
and give them stipends to further develop their designs. there will be an independent panel of jurors that will make recommendations to the commission on the selection of the finalists and the winning design. it will be the commission's choice. again, the commission has the sense to know that we are not design experts and it's not our place to preconceive what the design will look like. it is also our intention to engage the many stakeholders in this tomorrow, and in this -- in this memorial and in this site at the site at the very outset of the process, so we can tell entrants into the competition, give them clear parameters of what needs to be there and not be there, what field we are looking for the site, what other uses besides memorial uses will be provided by the site, how it will relate to freedom plaza across the street and the surrounding neighborhood. it's a very complex site given this location, and a lot of thought will be required at the outset.
we will have conversations with national parks and the national planning commission, fine arts, neighbors around the park, veterans groups, many stakeholders so we have an objective before we start the competition. there's currently no budget for the site other than what we have done on the back of envelope. the world war ii and martin luther king memorials each were about $100 million. i don't believe we could raise $100 million for a world war i memorial. nor do we envision something as elaborate as the world war ii memorial. in my own mind i harken back to , the d.c. war memorial which i fell in love with precisely because it was a quiet, sober place removed from the hustle and bustle of the city around it. it is that contemplative feel i
would like to re-create in a world war i memorial. this will not be a triumphant memorial because there was nothing triumphant about world war i. we do not envision a complex memorial. our working budget for this, this is back of the envelope, so i don't want to hear two years from now that we have exceeded our budget. it is about $10 million to $15 million. if we go much beyond that, we go beyond our purposes, and beyond what is realistic as far as our ambitions for fundraising. the schedule is ambitious. it is remarkable that the vietnam memorial was completed from start to finish in a matter -- 28 months. that is nearly impossible in today's environment. we have a little over four years. we hope to dedicate this on armistice day 2018.
it would be the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended world war i. we anticipate conducting the design competition through most of 2015, working on getting the necessary design approvals from the various reviewing agencies during 2016. spending 2017 sending drawings to engineers. freaking ground 2017 and completing and dedicating the memorial by veterans day 2018. four years is a tight timeframe for a memorial of this significance, but we think if we do the work right up front, we can make the process go quickly and efficiently and yield a memorial that will stand the test of time and do proper justice to the american veterans of world war i. this ultimately was -- we hear a
lot about the greatest generation. this is what i call the silent generation. they were the parents of the greatest generation. they suffered through two great calamities, world war i, and the great depression. and then they sent their sons and daughters off to fight in world war ii. again, this goes back to why this is not a triumphant memorial, but something more somber and reflective and reverential, that would do justice to a generation of americans that was largely not recognized in this country, certainly not by today's generations for the contributions and sacrifices they made for this country. that is our proposal and our plan. again, i should say a word about the pending legislation if i haven't. we have introduced a bill to authorize the commission to proceed with this proposal. bills were introduced simultaneously in the house and senate this year on a bipartisan basis.
we are very grateful to representative daniel cleaver of -- emanuel cleaver of kansas city and senators mccaskill and blunt of missouri, who have been our champions of this effort, along with congressman ted poe from texas, who was involved with a world war i memorial efforts for some years. they have carried the water with us. senator rockefeller has been of great assistance as well, as have others. bills were introduced in both houses on bipartisan basis. the house bill was passed as an amendment to the defense appropriation bill earlier this year. it has already been approved by the house. hearings have been held in the senate a couple of months ago. we anticipate that if the senate does not pass the appropriations bill, the memorial will move forward possibly as a stand-alone bill and get passed by this house. -- get passed by both senate and house. there is no significant opposition to the proposal. all of the major agencies are on
board and have come out publicly in support of the proposal. i talked to your neighbor, oliver carr, a few weeks ago and they are very engaged as well. oliver carr owns the hotel. this is easy. the problem is, i guess, couple of months ago when i was testifying before a house panel on this, the chairman of that subcommittee said to another group who was also testifying that day, he said, you've got a real problem. this bill makes sense and is the right thing to do, and we don't do things that way up here. [laughter] that is my one concern about this. i don't have to tell you all about how things work on capitol hill. even the easy stuff is hard. but it is the right thing to do. time is of the essence. with the attention that the centennial -- that the start of the war has brought just in the
last few weeks, we think we are optimistic that it will pass and we will be moving forward. [applause] >> we now have time for questions. i will call on you. can you please give your name .dentify who you are with if you are with the national press club, say that. >> [indiscernible] is this the first war memorial in washington that has ever been done without one single veteran still alive? why has this taken 100 years? why was this not done a long time ago? >> to the first part of your question, i cannot speak whether there were memorials of the war of 1812 or the spanish-american war or other conflicts after all of the veterans had passed. as to why it has taken so long, again, the idea of memorials of this sort is only 30-year-old idea.
it was the vietnam veterans. i should say the good citizens of kansas city, missouri did erect a memorial soon after world war i not just to the veterans of kansas city, but to the nation's veterans. to that extent there has been a memoriall world war i for quite some time, but in kansas city. and with all due respect to kansas city, it's not the nation's capital and does not draw the national and international visitors that the city does. but the idea of a national memorial in the nations capital only goes back 30 years. the vietnam veterans advocated and established their memorial and we have been working back. we have been working in reverse order. we did korea and we did world war ii, now we're getting to world war i. it is a recent phenomenon. we used to commemorate wars primarily locally, or on the battlefields themselves. obviously that cannot be done
, with respect to the wars of the 20th century. >> alan flavor, national press club. the national gallery in london has an art exhibit commemorating the devastation of world war i. what is being done in this country that will help educate and reeducate the american public along similar lines and to help build a growing consensus for and support for your memorial? >> many different things. the commemoration of the centennial in this country is unfolding in classic american fashion in two respects. one, as with world war i itself, we are late to the party. the europeans have been planning for their centennial efforts for much longer and have been dedicating more significant resources than this country has. and that makes sense, because it was much more a european experience than it was an american experience for many
obvious reasons. the war was fought there for four years, whereas we fought for five months. their loss of life was significantly greater than ours. it was fought largely over european causes. we were drawn into the war by attacks on u.s. interests. second, it is being done very much on a grassroots basis. it is being done very much on the grassroots basis. congress in its wisdom formed our commission, gave us no charter and no resources. because that is how this country establishes memorials and great events, by calling on private citizens to use their own dime. at the same time, an explicit part of our statutory mission is to reach out around the country and encourage support of other organizations that are engaged in world war i centennial activities. much of what we have been doing in our initial months have been building that network. the gratifying thing is that so
many organizations are out there doing so many things on their own without encouragement from us. the new york public library has an exhibit that started on july 28 regarding the war. a couple months ago i was at a , planning meeting hosted by the pennsylvania academy of fine arts that will be putting on what will be the definitive exhibition on world war i american art. kronos quartet, which is the somewhat avant-garde classical music group, has already performed a symphony of their own composition on world war i. the kansas city company is -- symphony is working on a symphony as well. there are groups around the country. one of our volunteers for the commission is spearheading the world war i memorial inventory project, which sets out to document every world war i memorial in the country, call attention to them, aid in their restoration, get the local citizens to research the names on those memorials.
glenn marcus is working on a major conference of documentary -- comprehensive documentary on american's involvement in world war i. there are a lot of people doing a lot of things. we are trying to coordinate with them and take credit for is much -- as much of what they are doing as possible, but also spearheading our own efforts. we have already held our first conference on world war i where we had a panel talking about the war. in washington tonight the , university club in washington tonight is hosting the first in a series of programs on various aspects of world war i. we are in a polluted partnership with ohio state university to put our conference conference in 2016 on military aspects of world war i. we are talking to the national press club about a conference next year focusing on the events that drew the united states into war, including the media aspects
of how things like the lusitania sinking and other events were covered. just as in europe, there is a lot going on. we have the luxury of going to a to, building to a crescendo of event in 2017, 2018, which will mark america's centennial of actual participation in the war. >> i'm curious if you got any feedback on this proposal. >> not specifically. i have been in touch with the district of columbia's historic reservation office and they have been supportive. the state historic preservation officer also sits on the national capital memorial advisory commission. that commission has signed off unanimously in support of this proposal.
to that extent, the district of columbia has been heard. i believe delegate norton has spoken in support of the site, but we have not spoken specifically. it is a national park service site. the district of columbia controls the streets around it. but i've never heard of any opposition and i'd be surprised to hear any. >> other questions? i have one for you. according to the "washington post," we have about 4 million visitors to the world war ii memorial. do you have any estimates of how many planned here? >> no, it won't be that scale. the national mall is unique. that is why everyone wants to be on the mall to take advantage of the foot traffic. i don't anticipate 4 million. we're right across the street from where everybody walks by to go to the white house. we think there is significant
traffic coming by the site anyway. we think we can draw people here. i don't have an estimate on numbers. it won't be what is on the mall, but we think it will be significant. >> can you talk about your own involvement? you said you had two grandfathers in the war. talk about what they did. >> one of them never got out of this country. he went through officer training, but never came out of the united states. my other grandfather, my grandfather fountain, grew up on a farm in north carolina, knew how to handle horses, so they made him an artillery man. all of the artillery and world war i was drawn by horses. he was in the 81st black cat division in the 315th field artillery regiment. he was scheduled to go on the front lines on november 12.
fortunately, perhaps i am standing here today because he never got to the front lines. but he was in theater. i believe he was an alternate. i don't know if he was a delegate to the conviction that formed the national legion, but he was at least an alternate delegate. he was mustered out in 1919. no great stories of heroism in my family, and frankly, that is not how i got involved in this. that is more incidental. i came to this effort from an historic preservation background. i was formerly the president of the d.c. preservation league, which is the major historic preservation advocacy group here in washington. we had featured the d.c. war memorial a number of times in our programs because it had fallen into great disrepair. there was at one point a sapling growing out of the top of the memorial and it had become very water damaged, and the paving around it had become very difficult to pass. some years ago in 2008, i formed a world war i memorial foundation whose original purpose was simply to advocate
for funds for restoration of that memorial. i will take credit, and i think the park service will give me credit for bringing enough public attention to the condition of the d.c. war memorial that when the park received $500 million in stimulus funds for capital projects and all of the park units around the country competed for the money within the park service, restoration of the d.c. war memorial rose to the top of that list, as well as the work the park service did on the reflecting pool and the jefferson memorial. in working with the d.c. war memorial, given where it's located -- and if you don't know, it's on the national mall right between the world war ii and korean veterans memorials right off of independence avenue and across the street from the mlk memorial. you stand at that memorial and you cannot help but look around and see national memorials to the three other great wars in 20th century and cannot help
but wonder why there is nothing for world war i. my sense of symmetry was offended, if nothing else. that led me to advocacy for a national war memorial on the mall. through those efforts, that is how i got appointed to the centennial commission. >> is this the first time you are announcing the design competition? is this actually open? >> not open yet. we just in the last week sent out solicitations for a professional advisor for the design competition. most design competitions are not actually run by the commission sponsoring the memorial, but they usually engage some other architect or other professional to serve as an advisor. we have just begun the process of hiring that person. we expect to throw this open sometime in the first quarter of 2015. >> other questions? >> you mentioned what word in
oliver carr. what efforts are you conceiving as being done to help publicize this as the process is going forward with others such as with the current trump hotel or the post office as well as with d.c. tourism officials? >> we have been in touch with the w. in fact, i think the picture on was taken from the rooftop restaurant of the w hotel. we have reached out to the marriott. we haven't heard from them yet. we will definitely be inviting the trumps to our initial planning meetings, for what should be obvious reasons. and certainly, all of the neighbors. we have even been in touch with the secret service already, because of course the inaugural parade goes right by the site. we don't have specific plans on publicizing it yet because we are not there yet.
this is sort of step one, where we are today. we are certainly talking it up every chance we have. once we have an advisor on board, our first step will be to sit down with all of the stakeholders, and that will certainly include the d.c. government. >> one of america's most popular military related films is york," which portrays what happened with the drafting and induction and service of alan york, one of the most popular movies of its type ever. there are other films as well. is there any plan to consider using those in helping to educate the public about what happened? >> to some extent, that has already happened. turner classic movies did a film festival on world war i throughout the month of july. every friday during july they had world war i movie
programming. the commission itself has no plans beyond that. we are beginning to make contacts in hollywood to talk about new feature films. i've always said that what world war one needs is the ken burns treatment and the saving private ryan treatment. we have heard of a few projects in the works. it was announced some time ago that leonardo dicaprio will be playing woodrow wilson in a n adaptation of the biography. i don't know how much that would focus on -- in an adaptation of scott berg's biography. but on how much that will focus on world war i. there is a celebrated unit of african american soldiers that served with great distinction during the war, as well as introducing jazz to europe. also in during the racism of the american military and political
establishment of that time. our understanding is that novel has been optioned by sony pictures and will smith. i look forward to sitting down across the table from will smith and asking him how he would like to be the tom hanks of world war i. something like that, particularly given who he is, a major film production like that would do more than anything the commission could do over the next four years to bring awareness and interest to world war i. that is the nature of our society. our mission is to penetrate the american consciousness through every channel possible, whether through fine art or education. one of our commissioners is the chief historian of the history channel. they have already produced two prime time features this year on world war i. they are also using their outlets to introduce content to secondary and primary education. there are so many different ways to bring people into world war i. we hope to deploy all of them.
>> other questions? i have another one. has any consideration been given to the fact that the pershing memorial will go down as the eisenhower memorial goes up and general pershing will be rolling -- turning over in his grave? >> first of all, i don't know that pershing will be leaving the site. that is a discussion we have not had yet. that will be a question, but i don't even know how i would answer that question. that is something we will engage the stakeholders with, and we will certainly be engaging general pershing's family on that. it is interesting. i talked earlier about the great man approach to memorials, and eisenhower is very much a great man approach. and you can quibble with that, whether that is the proper thematic approach. the roosevelt memorial is about
a lot more than roosevelt. it is very much about what was happening in the country and the -- during his administration. the pershing memorial may be part of the ultimate design. i don't know that yet. it all remains to be seen. >> other questions? >> i'm with a local law firm here, but interested in this area. if you would mention a place where everyone can keep track of the activities of the commission and the planning for all of this, their website and things like that. >> obviously, the commission does have a website and it is worldwaronecommission.org. i believe. does that sound right? worldwaronecentennial.org. it is up and running. for a 100-year old war, we are
pushing modern social media. there is the website itself and then we have many more active means of getting the word out. i appreciate the question. >> [inaudible] >> yes, we are raising money for commission activities in general. the history channel has been very generous, as have other organizations. we have not yet begun formal fundraising for the memorial because we are reluctant to ask for money before congress has given us approval to do so, before there is an actual project we can promote. so we are being sensitive to the timing of that. the design competition we may fund from our own resources. e theertainly wants -- onc memorial is approved, we will undertake those grassroots fundraising else well -- as well
is approaching major corporate donors. some civil rights groups have brought up the fact that if we have a memorial to world war i, entail a help but major role for president wilson, thewe know did disaggregate u.s. government and we have had much improvement in race relations between president lincoln up to president wilson. has the commission considered this at all? >> the question has not come up. we are far away from the design. my own personal view is without commenting on president wilson himself one way or the other that he would not be particularly visible in this memorial. to me, the more boreal -- memorial is not about the politicians that led us into the
war or the generals that led the troops into war. it is about the troops. i don't know what narrative text there might be at the memorial ,hat would talk about wilson but i personally don't anticipate him being a significant presence in the memorial. >> any other questions? if not, thank you very much. >> i have one. i am a private citizen. my question is about fundraising. are you going to consider using things like crowd sourcing to get access to small donations from people like yourself who have ancestors who served in the war? >> without speaking to specific channels, absolutely. obviously, the heavy lifting comes from major donors. my belief is war memorials such as this very much ought to be supported by the public at large, so we will welcome and solicit grassroots donations
from those who have any interest in the war and clearly those who have ancestors who fought in the war. absolutely that will be part of our fundraising for this. >> thank you very much, mr. fountain. [applause] >> appreciate it. thank you. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> you are watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. to join the conversation, like us on facebook. >> sunday night on american history tv, we will hear about senator sam ervin's time as chair of the watergate
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georgia with the goal of capturing atlanta. after a series of battles and the siege of the city, atlanta fell to the union on september 2, this was part of the gettysburg college institute annual summer conference. it is about one hour. >> before we get started, the map you see up here is a campaign map. the smaller map indicates the main battle. i know it is probably difficult for those of you in the back of the room to see the small details and maybe read the print, so what we did -- or actually, what pete's staff did, was actually include this in your maps and handbooks book. if you turn to page nine, you