Post Eagle Newspaper


Dec 5, 2023

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WWI Memorial Plan In Jeopardy

WWI Memorial President rejects plan for Pershing Park WWI Memorial and endorses protected status.

National Park Service slated to place park on National Register. Winning design may be doomed.

Grand Rapids, Michigan– In 2006 David DeJonge and Frank Buckles, the last WWI Veteran, visited the abandoned DC WWI Memorial and launched a campaign for a national WWI Memorial on the Mall. 10 years later the World War One Centennial Commission(WWCC) has announced the winning design for a memorial at Pershing Park. In contrast to the last doughboys dream.

“At one point I thought, OK Pershing Park could work and I wanted to give up on our mission. After months of reflection I decided just how tragic this idea was.” DeJonge stated. What DeJonge is referring to is a onion layered quandary about how to honor the WWI Veterans and the Great War itself.

Pershing Park was selected by the WWICC and would lead to the utter destruction of the Park most likely slated for the National Register. “One of the factors leading to emphatic stance against Pershing Park is the message it sends out to all existing memorial and parks. Here the WWICC chooses to obliterate a memorial park. What does this say to the nation about preservation? If the WWICC is indeed wanting to preserve the history of WWI why start with destruction? What message does this send to the other memorials of WWI fighting for their life such as the WWI Natatorium in Hawaii?”

An alarming trend. Questions continue about the typical and required procedure in the process of site selection. Most studies mandated seem to have been bypassed and the question blossoms, how? i.e. Environmental impact study, alternate location study, neighborhood impact study and traffic impact study to name a few.

The largest thing overlooked was the object of eradication itself- Pershing Park. The WWICC also did not consider the historical significance of Pershing Park. The Cultural Landscape Foundation fought for, and appears to have won a declaration of the park to be put on the National Register.

This affectively liquidates any and all designs selected for the site including the winner. “And it should. Because one organization does not like the way a park looks, a monument looks, a historic site looks what gives them the right to make plans destroy? This sets a horrible and unbelievable precedent for the future. I stand with the CLF on protecting it.” DeJonge stated

“I have worked this for 10 years now and I can assure you, while Pershing Park could be nice, the location is wrong and the majority of Americans prefer the National Mall as the location for a WWI Memorial and that is where it should be.” DeJonge again.

National Park Service statement re: Pershing Park:

Cultural Landscape Foundation:

WWI Memorial

David DeJonge is the president of the World War One Memorial Foundation and former spokesman for Frank Buckles the last WWI Veteran.
For more information e-mail David DeJonge at