Ceremony Heralds Opening of WWI Memorial in Washington 

By Lolita C. Baldor
via the nbcwashington.com (DC) web site 

The new World War I Memorial in Washington, D.C., will open to the public Saturday, and its launch was marked by a ceremony and flag-raising in honor of the 4.7 million veterans who served in what's known as America's Great War.

In remarks during the virtual ceremony, President Joe Biden paid tribute to the 4.7 million who served in the war, and the 116,516 Americans who lost their lives in it.

“Let us remember all that was sacrificed, all that was sanctified by the proud brave Americans who served in World War 1,” said Biden in taped remarks. “More than 100 years have passed, but the legacy and courage of those Doughboys sailing off to war and the values they fought to defend still live in our nation today.”

In December 2014, President Barack Obama signed legislation authorizing the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission to establish the memorial. And it re-designated Pershing Park, an existing memorial to Gen. John J. Pershing, commander of American forces in World War I, as the national World War I Memorial.

The First Colors ceremony on Friday included the raising of a flag by the U.S. military's 3d Infantry Regiment, known as the Old Guard. The flag flew over the U.S. Capitol on April 6, 2017, the 100-year anniversary of the day the United States entered the war. World War I is the last of the nation's four major 20th Century wars to be commemorated with a memorial in Washington, D.C.

The war, said Biden, was the first modern conflict, with the first use of planes and tanks. 

 

Arkansas Democrat Gazette 1 B memorial rgb t800The new National World War I Memorial in Washington, heralded in a ceremony Friday, honors the more than 4 million veterans of what is known as America’s Great War. Arkansan Joseph Weishaar designed the memorial. More photos at arkansasonline.com/417wwi/. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Frank E. Lockwood) 

WWI monument opens in capital; Arkansan’s design chosen for new D.C. war memorial 

By Frank E. Lockwood
via the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper (AR) web site

WASHINGTON -- More than a century after their guns fell silent, U.S. soldiers of the Great War finally have a monument of their own in the heart of the capital city.

The National World War I Memorial, built at a cost of roughly $50 million, opened to the public Friday.

Fayetteville native Joseph Weishaar, the project's designer, had a front-row seat for the flag-raising ceremony, which featured a color guard, a wreath laying, a live performance by the U.S. Army Band and a high-decibel fly-over by two F-22 Raptors.

"This is one of the most incredible experiences in my life. It was an incredible moment for America. And to be in the middle of it? Words can't describe that," Weishaar said.

Due to covid-19 restrictions, Friday's ceremony was largely virtual, with attendance limited to roughly 50 guests. Spaced 6 feet apart, the masked dignitaries watched prerecorded remarks by President Joe Biden, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and others.

More than 4 million Americans served in uniform during the conflict, enabling England, France and their allies to defeat the nations aligned with Germany and Austria-Hungary.

The toll for the United States was high: 116,516 Americans lost their lives while serving. Thousands of them are buried overseas.

The conflict touched "almost every American family at the time," Biden said.

After the Armistice, many communities erected monuments to their own fallen; the District of Columbia did as well. Kansas City, Mo., had a bigger vision, building what it called a Liberty Tower, 217 feet tall, "in commemoration of the service and sacrifice of American soldiers, sailors, and citizens in the Great War."

Similar efforts failed to materialize in Washington. 

Instead, memorials were built for those who served in Vietnam, Korea and World War II.

"For too long, that nationwide service has not been fully commemorated here, in the nation's capital," Biden said. "This memorial finally will offer a chance for people to visit and to reflect and to remember."

Haaland, whose father is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, authorized the flag to be raised Friday for the first time at the WWI memorial and promised that the National Park Service would be there "every day of every year watching over this memorial."

"As the daughter of a combat veteran, it's not lost on me that the veterans of World War I never lived to see a national memorial to their service and sacrifice here in our nation's capital, a place where their families could share their stories and heal their grief. Today, we right that wrong. Today we remember them," she said.

The last World War I veteran, Frank Buckles, died in 2011; he was 110 years old. Two years before his passing, he testified on Capitol Hill, encouraging lawmakers to build a memorial.

Congress eventually agreed, passing legislation in 2014 to do just that.

 

Virtual Event First Colors CCeremony WWICC Mozilla Firefox 4 16 2021 10 46 51 AM.mp4.01 09 41 29.Still001 1On April 16, 2021, the World War I Centennial Commission, in partnership with the National Park Service, the American Battle Monuments Commission, and the Doughboy Foundation, raised the flag of the United States of America over the new National World War I Memorial. on Washington, DC. 

National World War I memorial site dedicated on Pershing Park in D.C. 

By Anthony Deng
via thelocaldvm.com web site (DC)

WASHINGTON (WDVM) — Pershing Park is now the memorial site of World War I.

The memorial site lays on now-former Pershing Park, which is near the White House on Pennsylvania Ave. The Pershing Park was opened in 1981, named after the Army General John Pershing who fought in World War I, but the park had been recreational use only for the district residents.

The World War I Centennial Commission, which was established by the Obama administration after Congress passed the “World War I Centennial Commission Act,” established a new memorial in the nation’s capital after the administration signed legislation in December 2014.

A few months later in May 2015, the Commission launched an open, two-stage international design competition to redevelop Pershing Park as a World War I memorial. The Commission was looking for a design of a memorial that would “take its rightful place next to the National Memorials to the other wars of the 20th century.”

“The Commission sought a memorial that would convey the significance of World War I in national and world history, as well as the character of American service in the war and the scale of American sacrifice,” stated on its website. According to the Commission, more than 350 entries received and five were chosen to advance to a second stage by an independent jury of experts. In January of 2016, the commission chose the design concept submitted by architect Joseph Weishaar, and sculptor Sabin Howard.

Construction of the World War I Memorial began on December 19, 2019.

On April 16, 2021, the WWICC, in partnership with the National Park Service, the American Battle Monuments Commission, and the Doughboy Foundation, raised the flag of the United States of America over the new National World War I Memorial. 

 

Washington Examiner2The U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own" plays as the Star Spangled Banner is raised for the first time over the new National World War I Memorial in Washington, DC. 

National World War I Memorial unveiled in DC 

By Jeremy Beaman
via the Washington Examiner newspaper (DC) web site 

A new memorial honoring the 4.7 million people who served in World War I was introduced on Friday in Washington, D.C.

The World War I Centennial Commission, with help from service members representing each branch of the military, presented the National World War I Memorial in a first colors ceremony in Pershing Park. Most of the ceremony, which was livestreamed, was prerecorded.

“Let's remember all that was sacrificed, all that was sanctified by our proud, brave Americans who served in World War I,” President Joe Biden said during prerecorded remarks aired during the ceremony. “The commitment and valor of the American women and men who stepped up to serve, whether here at home or on the front lines in Europe, was the same spirit that has always defined American service members.”

While the D.C. War Memorial has honored residents of the district who gave their lives in World War I since 1931, the new memorial is the first one established in Washington to honor all of those who served in World War I.

Edwin Fountain, the former vice chairman of the WWI Centennial Commission who was described by one speaker as the “visionary” behind the memorial, described how the idea for the project emerged he was visiting the D.C. War Memorial.

“I thought, ‘Why do we have national memorials to three of the four great wars of the 20th century but not to the Great War?’” Fountain said during the virtual ceremony.

The flag raised during the ceremony was first flown over Washington on April 6, 2017, and subsequently over WWI battlefield cemeteries throughout Europe, the World War I Centennial Commission said in a news release. It will be the permanent flag to fly above the memorial.

Along with the memorial's main fixture, a monument portraying troops in various combat and noncombat scenes, the memorial includes a selection of verse from 20th-century poet and former Librarian of Congress Archibald MacLeish, himself a World War I veteran.

“They say, Whether our lives and our deaths were for peace and a new hope or for nothing we cannot say: It is you who must say this,” the poem reads. “They say, We leave you our deaths: Give them their meaning: We were young, they say. We have died. Remember us." 

 

First Colors on demand YouTube

The 4.7 Million Americans Who Served in WWI Now Have Their Own National Memorial in DC 

By Karli Goldenberg
via the military.com web site 

The American flag was raised over the National World War I Memorial in Washington, D.C.'s Pershing Park for the first time Friday morning during its First Colors Ceremony.

"Let's remember all that was sacrificed, all that was sanctified by our proud, brave Americans who served in World War I," President Joe Biden said during pre-recorded remarks. "The commitment and valor of the American women and men who stepped up to serve, whether here at home, or on the front lines in Europe was the same spirit that has always defined American service members."

The flag raised during the ceremony also flew over D.C. on April 6, 2017, recognizing the 100th anniversary of U.S. involvement in World War I. The commemorative flag also flew over several American battlefield cemeteries in Europe, according to a news release from the World War I Centennial Commission.

Terry Hamby, a Vietnam veteran who spent 26 years in various military services, told Military.com that serving as chairman of the World War I Centennial Commission was "a humbling experience."

"Somewhere along the way … we forgot 4.7 million Americans that sacrificed so much for our generation today," he said. "It became a mission for all of us to make sure that all those World War I veterans and their families were recognized in their sacred place."

Hamby knew that his grandfather served during WWI, but said he learned more recently that his great-uncle was also killed during the war.

"And then from that point forward, it was really personal. My family was one of those 116,516 people that gave the ultimate sacrifice," he said.

Architect and lead designer Joe Weishaar told Military.com that he was inspired to submit a design after looking through WWI photos in the National Archives.

"Looking at those photos, the thing that struck me was that everybody in them was 20 to 25 years old. And at the time, I was 24 or 25, when I submitted the design, and so it resonated with me," Weishaar said. "I don't have any relatives who were in the war, but just to see people my age, if I had been alive 100 years ago, that would have been me."

His design was inspired by the need to tell the soldiers' stories to younger generations, he said.

"It's been 101 years since the end of World War I; there are no living veterans. The only way that we can remember them is by telling stories," Weishaar explained.

Hamby said he hopes that the memorial will be a place to learn about and reflect on our history.

 

Hello Girls Youtube 

Ellie Fishman, Chanel Karimkhani, Andrew Mayer & More From THE HELLO GIRLS Perform in the FIRST COLORS Ceremony 

By BWW News Desk
via the broadwayworld.com (NYC) web site/em>

The United States World War I Centennial Commission, in cooperation with the Doughboy Foundation, the National Park Service and the American Battle Monuments Commission, sponsored the FIRST COLORS Ceremony, a major event to celebrate the inaugural raising of the American flag over the nation's soon to open World War I Memorial. The live-broadcast event featured a special performance by the Off Broadway cast of THE HELLO GIRLS and took place in Washington, DC on Friday, April 16 at 10:00 a.m. EDT / 7:00 a.m. PDT.

Hosted by award-winning actor and humanitarian Gary Sinise, the 90-minute program paid tribute to America's role in WWI and highlight our national unity with military fanfare, guest appearances by notable participants from across the country and musical performances including a special excerpt from the Off Broadway musical THE HELLO GIRLS.

The WWI FIRST COLORS Ceremony performance reunited members of the original Off-Broadway cast of THE HELLO GIRLS: Ellie Fishman (Finding Neverland, Miss Saigon National Tour, Goodspeed's The Music Man), Chanel Karimkhani (Bach and Bleach, The Goree All Girl String Band), Andrew Mayer (Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, I Spy A Spy), Matthew McGloin (Bastard Jones, 2 Pianos, 4 Hands at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park), Ben Moss (Oratorio For Living Things at Ars Nova, Broadway: Head Over Heels, Amélie, Deaf West's Spring Awakening), Lili Thomas (We're Gonna Die@2ST, Only Human), Skyler Volpe (Sing Street at NYTW / Broadway, Barrington Stage West Side Story), and Cathryn Wake (Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, The Other Josh Cohen). Original drummer Elena Bonomo (Broadway's Six, A Strange Loop) is joined by bass player and vocalist Nygel D. Robinson.

An ensemble of actor-musicians chronicles the story of America's first women soldiers in THE HELLO GIRLS. From New York to Paris, from ragtime to jazz, and featuring a critically-acclaimed score by Peter Mills, and book by Peter Mills and Cara Reichel, the musical tells the story of the groundbreaking women who served as the first soldiers in the U.S. Army, during World War I. These intrepid heroines served as bilingual telephone operators on the front lines, helping turn the tide of World War I. They then returned home to fight a decades-long battle for equality and recognition, paving the way for future generations.

NYC's critically-acclaimed Prospect Theater Company premiered THE HELLO GIRLS Off-Broadway at 59E59 in November of 2018. The musical was nominated for three Drama Desk Awards (Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Lyrics and Outstanding Music), four Outer Critics Circle Awards (including Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical, Outstanding New Score and Outstanding Book Of A Musical, and nominations for Outstanding New Musical from the Drama League Awards and Best New Musical from the Off Broadway Alliance Awards. THE HELLO GIRLS was later featured in ASCAP's Musical Theater Week at The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC (October 2019) and most recently featured in a Prospect IGNITE Series concert at Symphony Space (February 2020). THE HELLO GIRLS Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording is available at www.BroadwayRecords.com and everywhere music is sold. 

 

F 22An F-22 raptor, as seen in 2016. 

That Noise You Heard Overhead Was Part Of A Planned Memorial Ceremony 

By Margaret Barthel
via the dcist.com (DC) web site 

You may have looked up at the sky a few minutes ago and thought: Okay, that one wasn’t a helicopter.

And you were right. The loud sound heard overhead around D.C. shortly after 11 a.m. was a flyover from some fighter jets, part of the dedication of the new National World War I Memorial in D.C.

dcistt 1

The jets were part of a live broadcast ceremony meant to commemorate the sacrifices of the “4.7 million Americans [who] sent their sons and daughters off to fight a war that would change the world,” according to a press release from the World War I Centennial Commission. Besides the flyover, officials also unveiled an American flag first flown in D.C. on April 6, 2017, the centennial of the United States’ entrance into World War I. Since then, the flag has been on tour, flying over American battlefield cemeteries in Europe. It will now be a permanent fixture at the World War I memorial on the National Mall.

The flyover was close to the White House, where the daily press briefing was, for once, drowned out. 

 

After years of wrangling, WWI memorial opens in D.C. 

By Jennifer Steinhauer
via the StarTribune newspaper (MN) web site 

WASHINGTON – Memorials to the war dead of the 20th century are among the central attractions in the nation's capital. So it has always been notable that one of the most consequential U.S. conflicts, World War I, lacked national recognition.

merlin 186389886 c5591291 d58f 463e 89ce 0e0bcb9fe220 articleLargeThe design, restoration of Pershing Park and construction of the new memorial in Washington will cost $42 million.Credit...T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York TimesNow, as the United States withdraws from its longest war, a memorial that recognizes one of its most complicated ones officially opened in Washington on Friday after years of tangling among preservationists, urban planners, federal officials and the commission that realized its creation.

The first flag was raised at the memorial in Pershing Park, near the White House — rather than along the National Mall, where many supporters had envisioned — on a spot once used for ice skating, cocoa sipping and midday sandwich nibbling by hurried office workers who sat under the crepe myrtles. Fights over the memorial's location, accuracy and scale have been part of its journey.

"Our objective was to build a memorial that would stand shoulder to shoulder with other monuments and elevate World War I in the American consciousness," said Edwin Fountain, vice chairman of the World War I Centennial Commission, "at the same time recognizing that unlike those memorials, this has to be a memorial and an urban park."

The only original nod to the war in the park, a statute of Gen. John J. Pershing, who commanded the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe, will remain at the edge of the space. But the memorial's central focus is a large wall that will hold its final feature: a 58-foot bronze sculpture that is either a bold testament to the significance of the mission or a detraction from its natural setting, depending on the point of view.

The design, restoration of the original park and construction of the new memorial will cost $42 million. The commission has $1.4 million left to raise.

The sculpture, "A Soldier's Journey," tells the story of one American's path from reluctant service member to returned war hero through a series of scenes featuring 38 figures. They are meant to convey the story of the country's transformation from isolationist to a leader on the world stage, with a final visual reference to the next big war. 

 

wwI memorial607 041621Army veteran Andrew Forte watches on a monitor the nearby ceremony in Pershing Park on Friday to open the National World War I Memorial. Frank Buckles, the last American WWI veteran to die, appears on the monitor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) 

More than a century later, WWI gets its memorial in Washington 

By Jim Saksa
via CQ-Roll Call news service 

Washington does not want for monuments, but a new one to an old war opened with a flag-raising ceremony Friday.

The National World War I Memorial in Pershing Park is the first monument in the nation’s capital to all the 4.7 million Americans who served in the Great War and the 116,512 who would never come home.

As belated as the ceremony may have been, no pomp was spared during the hourlong event. There were recorded comments from President Joe Biden, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, plus a military band, WWI doughboy and sailor re-enactors, and, scaring a sizable subset of the city, a military flyover by two F-22s that were considerably louder than the biplanes that fighter aces flew over the fields of Flanders more than a century ago.

No one who fought in the war is left — the last living American doughboy died in 2011 at the age of 110. Most of their children are also gone. Edwin Fountain’s grandfathers served in the Great War, but that’s not why he ended up leading the memorial’s construction effort.

Fountain started small, working on a monument to D.C. locals who fought. “The D.C. war memorial was in a sad, sad state of repair, and somebody needed to help get it restored, and so I took that on,” said the former vice chair of the World War I Centennial Commission.

A lawyer by trade, Fountain developed an interest in historic preservation over his years living in a city that can often feel like one big sprawling museum. The successful effort to restore that memorial led to the campaign to create another, more ecumenical one, starting in 2008.

To Fountain and others who would go on to form the Centennial Commission, it just seemed wrong that America’s other major wars — World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War — had national memorials in the capital, but not the First World War.

 

Weishaar 

Fayetteville native designs newly opened WWI memorial in Washington, D.C. 

By Garrett Fergeson
via the ozarksfirst.com web site (AR) 

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A Fayetteville man’s vision after nearly 6 years has come true to remember those who fought during the war to end all wars.

Joe Weishaar, a Fayetteville native and the lead designer of the National World War I Memorial In Washington, D.C., attended a small gathering, limited to 50 people due to the Washington COVID-19 restrictions, for the flag-raising ceremony over the WWI Memorial Friday.

“This is an incredible moment for the country, for our veterans, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it,” Weishaar said. “After working on this project for over 6 years there were so many highs and lows and times we didn’t think we were going to get passed or if it would get built.”

The nearly 2-acre park located on Pennsylvania Avenue, about a block from the White House, honors the nearly five million Americans who fought for liberty overseas.

“From the very beginning, this became a memorial about storytelling. Both through visual narratives, to the sculpture that will soon be installed to the quotations. That’s really all we have left from the men and women who served… is their stories,” Weishaar said.

The Virginia-based 94th Fighter Squadron flew F-22 raptors over downtown as part of the opening of a newly built National World War I Memorial.

World War I occurred between July 1914 and November 11, 1918. By the end of the war, over 17 million people would be killed, including over 100,000 American troops.

The National WWI Memorial pays tribute to 4.7 million Americans who served their nation in WWI, 200,000 who were wounded and 116,516 who died. It is a memorial to all Americans who supported their troops and did so with pride, then as they do now.

Explore the memorial using WWI Memorial Apps. The “WWI Memorial Virtual Explorer” App brings the Memorial to you on your mobile device in an innovative and immersive “Virtual Field Trip” experience. The “WWI Memorial Visitor Guide” App is designed to enhance your visit to the Memorial in Washington, D.C. 

 

Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc memorial first colors 1Team Member Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Contributes to WWI Tribute Space 

Washington, DC’s First World War I Memorial Celebrates Opening with First Colors Ceremony 

via the Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. web site

Washington, DC’s first World War I Memorial celebrated its grand opening today with a live-broadcast First Colors Ceremony. The United States World War I Centennial Commission, the Doughboy Foundation, the National Parks Service, and the American Battle Monuments Commission gathered together virtually with people across the Nation to watch the historic inaugural raising of the American Flag at a site dedicated to honor the service of 4.7 million World War I Veterans. This 75-minute program, led by award-winning actor and humanitarian Gary Sinise, featured military fanfare, musical performances, and guest appearances from military leads and elected officials.

As the first World War I Memorial to exist in the Nation’s Capital, the new site provides a dynamic urban space that educates and inspires Americans about this significant event in history. Located on 1.8 acres adjacent to the White House South Lawn with views of the Washington Monument and National Mall, a reflection pool and 60-foot-long by 10-foot-high bronze sculpture serves as the centerpiece of the park. This urban park will provide space for reflection and commemoration, in addition to connectivity to the larger network of nearby memorials and monuments.

The project commenced in 2015 when the World War I Centennial Commission hosted an international design competition. With more than 350 submissions, lead designer, Joe Weishaar, and sculptor, Sabin Howard, were selected as the winners. As a teaming partner to Baltimore-based GWWO Architects, VHB provided site engineering for the project that included a stormwater management solution that will collect harvested rainwater for irrigation of all new plantings associated with the new memorial, while also reducing stormwater runoff.

“VHB was honored to play a part in this long overdue project for our Nation’s Capital,” said Jim Long, Chief Civil Engineer with VHB. “Like so many across our Nation, I have a direct personal connection to World War I through my Grandfather and Uncle who served. Participating on this project allowed me to play a role in creating a space for many like me who want to pay tribute to this historic event. This urban park’s location in an iconic part of Washington will provide a space to reflect, mourn, and celebrate those who represented and sacrificed so much over one hundred years ago to protect and honor the America we know today.” 

 

WABE world war one sculpture rendition 710x355The National World War One Memorial opened in Washington, DC on April 17. The sculpture is still being finalized. CREDIT COURTESY OF: THE U.S. WORLD WAR ONE CENTENNIAL COMMISSION 

Atlanta Architect Creates First National World War I Memorial In Washington, D.C. 

By Summer Evans
via the wabe.org (Atlanta, GA) radio station web site

Until now, our nation’s capital has never had an official tribute to the 4.7 million Americans who served in World War I. After winning a design competition held by the World War I Centennial Commission, Atlanta architect Joe Weishaar lead the creation of the new memorial which opened in Washington, D.C. earlier this month. He joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom to talk about the process of designing this tribute to America’s soldiers.

“It wasn’t until the Vietnam Memorial in 1982 that we really started building national memorials, and once that process started, it really went in reverse chronological order,” said Weishaar. “It wasn’t until we had no living veterans that we got around to building the World War I Memorial.”

Weishaar, born in a small town in Arkansas, confessed that he knew little about the war before the memorial project.

“This entire process has been a re-education in the war … There was this entire piece of world history that I seemed to be missing,” said Weishaar. “There’s a great, I would say almost overlooked, amount of both technology and global influence that we still feel today from World War I. Its impacts were ever-reaching.”

The memorial will feature a sculpture called “A Soldier’s Journey,” created in collaboration with sculptor Sabin Howard. The finalized sculpture is expected to be completed in 2024. Its 38 bronze relief figures will depict a soldier who leaves his family, fights and loses comrades in the conflict, and returns home wounded.

“When it’s completed, it will be the largest bronze high relief in the Western hemisphere. It’s absolutely enormous,” said Weishaar. Howard and Weishaar’s team worked with film studios, using augmented reality technology, to perfect the poses of the sculpture’s figures. Howard is using 3D-printed armatures as foundational structures for each piece.

Located in Pershing Park in Washington D.C., the memorial currently displays Howard’s original illustration for the sculpture-in-progress, and features a peace fountain, pool basin, newly landscaped plazas, and groves of trees. There are educational resources throughout the memorial, including an app for iPhone and Android that visitors can use as a guide. 

 

Weishaar ARkansas DJSix years after he entered a competition to design a national World War I memorial, Arkansas native Joseph Weishaar is nearing the finish line. The memorial opens to the public Friday. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Frank Lockwood) 

Arkansan-designed memorial to WWI vets opening in D.C. 

By Frank E. Lockwood
via the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper web site 

WASHINGTON -- Nearly six years after Fayetteville native Joseph Weishaar submitted his initial entry, the national World War I memorial he designed is about to open.

Friday morning, dignitaries will gather for a small flag-raising ceremony.

Washington covid-19 rules, updated in March, allowed "outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people," so attendance will be limited.

The event will include a military flyover as well as pre-recorded comments by President Joe Biden.

Afterward, the fencing surrounding the 1.76-acre park on Pennsylvania Avenue will be removed and the public will be allowed in.

Poppy seeds, imported from the original war zone, have been planted. By June, they should be blossoming.

"It's pretty amazing" to nearly be done, Weishaar said during a drizzly tour of the site Wednesday afternoon.

The landscaping is finished, the stonework is complete and the water features are already running.

The $50 million project is nearly paid for; $48.61 million has already been raised.

Roughly 4.7 million Americans served in uniform during World War I.

The United States entered the conflict in April 1917, enabling England, France and their allies to defeat the nations aligned with Germany and Austria-Hungary. Millions of people died in the conflict, including 116,516 Americans.

Until now, there has been no national monument in Washington honoring their sacrifice.

There won't be any veterans of the conflict at Friday's ceremony. The last U.S. World War I military veteran, Frank Buckles, died on Feb. 27, 2011; he was 110 years old.

The new memorial pays homage to the heroes of World War I. But it also sends a message to every man and woman who has ever donned a U.S. military uniform, Weishaar said.

"They will never be forgotten," he said. "Honor and sacrifice will always mean something to the people of this nation."

Congress passed legislation in 2014 authorizing the memorial at Pershing Park, a site that already features a statue honoring the man who commanded the U.S. troops in World War I -- General of the Armies John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing.

The United States World War I Centennial Commission was tasked with picking the design and raising the money.

The selection of Weishaar generated plenty of headlines.

Given the challenges that arose between 2015 and today, there were times when the young Arkansan doubted the project would ever be completed, he said.

"To actually be standing in the park the week it opens is incredible," he said. 

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