The nation's capital would finally get a World War I memorial under legislation introduced in Congress on Monday, April 28. Pershing Park in downtown Washington, DC would be renamed the National World War I Memorial under the World War I Memorial Act of 2014 (H.R. 4489 and S. 2264). The World War I Centennial Commission could plan ceremonies for the rededication of the 50-year-old park and to enhance the commemorative work honoring the late General John Pershing and the soldiers under his command during the First World War.
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) introduced the measure in the House, along with eight cosponsors. It was referred to the committees on Natural Resources and Oversight & Government Reform. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) introduced the measure in the Senate along with two cosponsors. It was referred to the Committee on Energy & Natural Resources.
The bill would waive the requirements of the Commemorative Works Act regarding site selection for the memorial. But it notes that any new memorial may not interfere in any way with the existing memorial on the National Mall in Washington dedicated to District of Columbia residents who fought in the war. If the commission retains any leftover funds after setting up a memorial and related dedication activities, the act would send the money to the National Park Foundation. The commission would have to do its work with non-federal funds.
The bill would also designate the Liberty Memorial of Kansas City at America's National World War I Museum in Kansas City, Mo. as the National World War I Museum and Memorial. This explains why legislators from Missouri introduced the legislation. The centennial of World War I begins on July 28 of this year.
The bill would also amend the charter of the commission, adding some ex officio or advisory members.
These members would include the archivist of the United States, the librarian of Congress, the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, the secretary of State, the secretary of Veterans Affairs and the administrator of General Services. Other advisory members would represent the armed services and National Park Service.