A Monument to Expediency?

Getting a national monument designed, approved, and built is tricky business in Washington. It involves a rigorous review process, allowing for public comment - there's also stiff competition for the best design.

Getting one built to honor World War II veterans has been a battle since 1995 - taking "twice as long as it did to win the war" notes House Armed Services chair Bob Stump (R) of Arizona.

Mr. Stump was able to have a bill passed in the House this week that would bypass the bickering over the monument's design and location, and halt further review. The Senate is expected to take it up next month.

The open spaces from the Lincoln to the Washington Monuments seem a fit setting for a long-overdue memorial to honor Americans who fought in a history-changing war. But Congress shouldn't subvert a tested, albeit messy, process already in place to choose such monuments.

Critics claim the location would disrupt the view along the National Mall. Models clearly show an open line of sight is preserved, and this may be a point for compromise.

Perhaps more fundamentally, critics contend architect Friedrich St. Florian's design is uninspired, austere, and authoritarian. He argues it's simply consistent with other Washington classical-style structures, and already has made modifications.

Still, further refinements may be in order. Public hearings by the National Capital Planning Commission in mid-June should lead toward resolution, not further delays. It's time to work together to get the job done, and let inspiration, not politics, rule the day.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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