November 21, 2017
Washington, D.C. — The World War I Centennial Commission broke ground ceremonially on November 9, 2017 for the National WWI Memorial to be located at Pershing Park in Washington, DC.
However, the last WWI veterans spokesman, who started the effort with that veteran, Frank Buckles, has launched a campaign to stop Pershing Park and continue pushing for the National Mall.
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 discussed this until the last days of his life. He was so adamant that it not be at Pershing Park that he testified at the age of 108 in front of Senate to place the memorial on the mall.” DeJonge stated.
The park has been found eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places and essentially can't be altered. Pershing has been found eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Pershing Park is a park-plaza similar to Peavey Plaza, which was also designed by landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg, and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places It diminishes the work of important landscape architects; M. Paul Friedberg, who designed the park, and Oehme, van Sweden, who did the subsequent planting plan.
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. Pershing Park is an urban park located about a 30 minute walk from the National Mall, surrounded by 5 lanes of traffic and immense unmoveable berms.
"It is beyond tragic that the honor of all World War I veterans is now confined to the bottom of this park. I believe there is zero possibility of a National Mall visitor to ever make the walk to Pershing Park let alone find it. When I visited Pershing Park, where the National WWI Memorial is slated to go, I was met with nearly impenetrable berms. What a colossal mistake this location is. History and honor will die at Pershing Park in Washington DC," DeJonge stated.
This effort has been fought from the beginning from architects, landscape groups and preservationists to protect this historic park. Thursday, November 9, 2017 the VFW and American Legion gave $300,000 each to the new National World War I Memorial at Pershing Park. The effort has received a 5 million dollar grant from the Pritzker Foundation of Chicago, Illinois.
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. He has been fighting ever since.
"I will keep my word. Frank Buckles told me the most important lesson in life is to 'keep your word.' I will." said DeJonge.
The effort to fight for the national mall was in discussion with the WWI Centennial Commission the week of their event. They ultimately refused to participate in the effort or to help offered by DeJonge.
Company Name: World War One Memorial Foundation
Contact Person: David DeJonge
City: Washington, DC/ Grand Rapids, MI
Country: United States
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - NOVEMBER 8, 2017
WASHINGTON, DC — David DeJonge has returned to Washington, DC, and this time he and his team have another big task at hand. DeJonge will be in DC from November 8-11, 2017, to begin his campaign for a Memorial to be placed on the National Mall to honor WW1 soldiers.
The National Mall is a historic place, and it was here that America's planning headquarters for WWI was located. With the former Main Navy and Munitions Buildings located directly over Constitution Gardens, this should, according to legal opinion, qualify it for the Antiquities Act of 1906. DeJonge will thus urge President Trump to act on this basis and honor the WW1 soldiers and their families.
David DeJonge is the photographer who documented the last WWI survivors, and ultimately became the spokesman for the last WWI Veteran Frank Woodruff Buckles. It was Buckles who, at the base of the DC WWI Memorial on March 6, 2008, asked DeJonge to fight for a memorial on the National Mall.
"The initial fight by Buckles, myself and the WWI Memorial Foundation board continued until 2015. The WWI Centennial Commission took over and passed their law to put the Memorial in Pershing Park, part of the massive as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, at a 30 minute walk from the other war Memorials on the National Mall," DeJonge said.
Pershing Park, located downtown DC is an isolated urban park surrounded by five lanes of traffic. The park is protected under the National Register of Historic Places, and essentially cannot be changed. As a result, the Memorial has continued to be reduced, now slated for the bottom of the old ice rink in the area of the garage door where the Zamboni was parked for the ice rink.
"Initially I had some optimism about Pershing Park. But after it continued to get restricted, and the latest proposal is to put it below the berms (that cannot be moved or changed), essentially 15 feet below eye level, I decided to again get involved. I never thought this location could get any worse, but it is about as poor a location as the Metro stop at Foggy Bottom," said DeJonge.
"I have some options to get this before the President, and I will. If it does not happen, the entire nation will know this story. It will be told in an upcoming and expanded broadcast of my two part documentary: Pershing's Last Patriot. The nation will know exactly what happened, and who was involved. This is the first time a memorial effort has been documented from the very beginning to its end," said DeJonge.
David DeJonge (pronounced de Young)
President & Founder, WWI Memorial Foundation/WWI Memorial Effort Washington DC
Spokesman for the late Frank Buckles, the last living WWI Veteran
Washington, DC: 202-670-4407
Cell/ talk/ text: 616-540-4922
Contact: David DeJonge, President, WWI Memorial Foundation
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - OCTOBER 26, 2017
WASHINGTON, DC — After a ten-year fight ,the commission tasked with honoring the legacy of WWI has decided to place the veterans' memorial in the place of a former garage door, located in the bottom of an ice rink, 20 feet below ground. This location, named Pershing Park, is a protected landmark under the National Register of Historic Places and cannot be changed.
As a result of its protected status, all the efforts of the WWI Centennial Commission have been reduced and constricted.
Initially, entrants into the WWI Memorial design competition were instructed to bulldoze Pershing Park and start afresh. All of these submitted plans from hundreds of architects, and the winner selected, were made void under the park's protected status.
After more meetings with the National Capital Planning Commission and the Commission of Fine Arts, the memorial to the First World War been minimized and reduced until now, it is to be placed at the bottom of the former ice rink. This lackluster memorial concept, if built, would be literally overlooked by the public and altogether missed.
The WWI Centennial Commission says it will refill the pond and add a flagpole on the corner.
"I started this effort with the last WWI veteran, Frank Buckles, in 2007, and what has occurred is absolutely unacceptable. We are talking about honoring nearly five million veterans. Five million! 116,561 gave their lives as the ultimate sacrifice of our nation," David DeJonge, founder of the WWI Memorial effort in DC, said.
On November 8, 2017, the WWI Memorial Foundation will announce its full plan for resuming its fight to place the National WWI Memorial on the National Mall, where it ought to be: among the memorials to soldiers of all of America's great wars.
"The WWI Centennial Commissioners were appointed by the top leaders of the nation. Those leaders most likely don't know what has happened—but they will be finding out," DeJonge added.
DeJonge will be in Washington, DC, November 8-11 to announce a full force-war to stop this unacceptable memorial plan and fight for the National Mall.
David DeJonge was the spokesman for the last WWI veteran, Frank Woodruff Buckles, and is the president of the WWI Memorial Foundation. wwimemorial.org