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Fundraising continues for World War I Memorial

Private fundraising continues toward amassing the $46 million necessary to construct the World War I Memorial in Pershing Park, a less than two-acre parcel a stone’s throw from the White House.

The World War I Centennial Commission has accomplished roughly 25 percent of that fundraising goal, which will eventually include net surcharges from the proceeds of sales of Proof and Uncirculated 2018-P World War I American Veterans Centennial silver dollars. The purchase price of each silver dollar includes a $10 surcharge. 

The net surcharges, after the U.S. Mint has recouped all of its production and associated costs, will be paid to the United States Foundation for the Commemoration of the World Wars, to assist the World War I Centennial Commission in commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

No surcharges are to be paid out until the conclusion of the commemorative coin program in December 2018. No more coins can be struck and issued after Dec. 31. 

Based on sales through May 27 of 47,574 single Proof silver dollars, 57,579 Proof silver dollars in five different coin and medal sets, and 18,123 Uncirculated silver dollars, $1,232,760 in gross surcharges have been generated.

As currently being developed, with final plans still to be approved, the memorial will comprise bronze bas relief walls depicting an American soldier leaving for war, soldiers engaging in battle, some being wounded, and the return home to family.

“The Weight of Sacrifice” project was developed by Joe Weishaar, a neophyte architect who while an intern in Chicago in 2016, had his architectural concept selected from among more than 350 applicants. The bronze bas reliefs for the 56-foot-long walls are to be executed by classical figurative sculptor Sabin Howard.

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The initial goal for completion of the memorial was November 2018, to coincide with the centennial anniversary, but that has been moved back because of recommended revisions to Weishaar’s original design. The Commission of Fine Arts and other advisory bodies have still not given final approval.

The CFA reviewed the latest revisions at its May 17 meeting. In its May 24 letter to the National Park Service and World War I Centennial Commission, CFA members “expressed their continuing support for a design that balances two works of art — the existing Pershing Park by [modernist landscape architect] M. Paul Friedberg and the proposed linear relief sculpture by Sabin Howard — as an appropriate way to commemorate World War I within a monumental and historic context.”

The CFA members “suggested that reversing the freestanding wall at the west side of the pool—placing the relief sculpture facing the west terraces for convenient viewing, and restoring a cascading fountain facing east—would help to resolve many of the issues, including eliminating the need for walkways through the pool which may eventually require obtrusive and undesirable handrails. This simple reorientation of the sculpture wall would have the welcome effect of using the east side of the wall for the cascade in order to maintain the established character of the park landscape, while creating a focus for commemoration and contemplation on the west. They also suggested other ideas that could help to resolve the design, such as letting the sculpture emerge past the ends of the wall, returning the sculpture around to the other side, or introducing water into the sculpture itself.” 

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