[Congressional Record Volume 143, Number 101 (Wednesday, July 16, 1997)]
[Senate]
[Page S7616]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                    RESPONSE TO THE AMERICAN LEGION

 Mr. KERREY. Mr. President, recently I received a letter from 
the national vice commander of the American Legion expressing his 
displeasure with my concerns with the process surrounding the selection 
of a site and design for the World War II Memorial.
  As a matter of public record, I would like to submit my response and 
an article from the May 23, 1997, issue of the Washington Post. The 
Washington Post article discusses the recent problems with the Korean 
War Memorial, including flooding and damage to shade trees in the 
surrounding areas. I thought this article might be of interest to the 
American Legion and my colleagues.
  The material follows:


                                                  U.S. Senate,

                                    Washington, DC, July 15, 1997.
     Robert L. Bowen,
     National Vice Commander, The American Legion, Woodbridge, VA.
       Dear Mr. Bowen: Although I am opposed to the selection of 
     the Rainbow Pool Site, I fully support the construction of a 
     memorial to the veterans of World War II and have even called 
     for the construction of a museum. The struggle and sacrifices 
     made by my parents' generation during the most pivotal event 
     of the 20th Century is a story that must be thoroughly told 
     to my children and grandchildren's generations.
       There is a process for building a memorial--any memorial--
     on Federal property, which has many steps and procedures. 
     Currently there is some confusion as to whether this process 
     is being properly followed, because of an apparent rush for 
     approval and completion. The result could cause the 
     construction of a memorial not befitting to those it portends 
     to honor, and puts at peril the sacred space that is our 
     National Mall.
       Certainly you are aware of the situation concerning the 
     Korean War Memorial (please see the attached article from the 
     Washington Post.). This memorial has been closed almost as 
     much as it has been open to the public in its two years and 
     is already suffering from disrepair and flooding problems 
     because of its location on the Mall--which lies on a flood 
     plain.
       The current proposed site for the World War II memorial 
     lies on this same flood plain and, besides its 50-foot-high 
     berms and 7.4 acres of land space, calls for a significant 
     amount of subterranean construction.
       Because there have been no studies as to the effects of 
     subterranean construction on this site and the Mall, nor any 
     studies on the impact the size and scope of the proposed 
     memorial will have on the Mall, I am concerned about its long 
     term impact and the cost to taxpayers, the City and the 
     Federal government. Because once the memorial is completed, 
     it will be turned over to the National Park Service for 
     overall maintenance and thus will be supported by taxpayer 
     dollars.
       I am absolutely concerned with how our veterans of World 
     War II are honored. That is why I am particularly troubled 
     that the National Park Service has ruled it will close any 
     memorial built on the Rainbow Pool Site during July 4th 
     weekend celebrations, because the Rainbow Pool Site is the 
     launch location of the fireworks display. This seems to 
     belabor the point that not enough scrutiny is being given to 
     what is being built, where.
       I appreciate and share your concern about the progress of 
     the World War II memorial and will continue to work on behalf 
     of the veterans and the American people to ensure that a 
     proper and fitting monument is constructed and that the 
     integrity of our National Mall is maintained.
       Please feel free to contact me in the future if you have 
     any further concerns and I hope you will join me in my 
     efforts.
           Sincerely,
     Bob Kerrey.
                                                                    ____


                [From the Washington Post, May 23, 1997]

       Neglected But Not Forgotten, Korean War Memorial Gets Help

                           (By Linda Wheeler)

       Officials of the troubled Korean War Veterans Memorial have 
     promised the fountain will flow and the walkway will be open 
     for the country's official observance of Memorial Day on 
     Monday.
       The two-year-old monument, near the Lincoln Memorial, was 
     partially closed in September when the fountain broke, 
     walkway paving stones buckled and 40 dead shade trees were 
     removed. Since then, various federal agencies and private 
     contractors involved with the memorial have argued over who 
     will pay for the repairs.
       Some of the work is being done under warranty, said 
     American Battle Monuments Commission spokesman Joe Purka. The 
     commission built the memorial and has agreed to fund $100,000 
     in repairs until liability is determined.
       Purka said the commission, founded in 1923, has 
     responsibility for maintaining 24 American military 
     cemeteries in foreign lands and 27 memorials here and in 
     other countries. He said the commission took the money for 
     emergency repairs to the Korean War Veterans memorial from a 
     general fund that is to be reimbursed.
       The World War II Memorial, planned for the Rainbow Pool 
     site on the Mall, is also a commission project.
       Last week, Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio), a Korean War hero and 
     a sponsor of the memorial, sent a tersely worded letter to 
     the commission, the Army Corps of Engineers as general 
     contractor and the National park Service after news accounts 
     of the memorial's condition. In the May 13 letters, he said 
     he wanted the memorial fixed promptly.
       ``It is disrespectful to our Korean War veterans to see the 
     national memorial to their service in such disrepair,'' he 
     wrote. ``I would hesitate to take a visitor to this memorial, 
     which I supported and worked for over several years.''
       Purka said Glenn's letters ``may have added a little 
     impetus'' in getting repairs underway.
       Yesterday, water flowed through the fountain again, and two 
     ducks paddled around the circular pool. Nearby a grader 
     pushed fine, crushed gravel into the pool and the walkway 
     were closed off with yellow tape and orange cones.
       John LeGault, 65, a Korean War veteran visiting from 
     Montrose, Colo., said Wednesday he wasn't surprised to see 
     the memorial torn up. ``Who cares?'' he asked. ``That was the 
     forgotten war and this is the forgotten memorial. Considering 
     how long it took to build it, it will take another 2 to fix 
     it.''
       William Weber, also a Korean War veteran and chairman of 
     the Gen. Richard G. Stilwell Korean War Veterans Memorial 
     Fund Inc., said he understands LeGault's frustration. He and 
     other board members struggled for nine years to raise the $18 
     million to build the memorial, only to see problems show up 
     within six months of the July 27, 1995, dedication by 
     President Clinton.
       ``The memorial seemed to deteriorate so quickly and then it 
     took so long to take action to do the repairs,'' Weber said. 
     ``Many of us were very frustrated.''
       Weber said supporters of the memorial have recognized the 
     need for a private fund to handle large repairs not covered 
     by the Park Service but have only recently begun to raise 
     money.
       Care of the nation's memorials falls to the Park Service 
     when they are built on federal parkland. However, over the 
     years maintenance costs have risen with aging memorials and 
     Congress has tightened the Park Service's budget.
       Since 1986, builders of memorials have been required to set 
     aside 10 percent of the construction costs for the Park 
     Service's use. For the Korean War Veterans Memorial, about 
     $1.2 million was turned over to the Park Service, Purka said. 
     However, the Park Service said those funds are for routine 
     care--not major repairs such as the fountain and the $30,000 
     tree replacement.
       The Park Service has replaced dead shrubs around the 19 
     stainless steel soldier figures that are part of the memorial 
     and has enhanced the lighting for nighttime visits.
       Weber said there will be a small ceremony at the memorial 
     on Monday to mark the holiday. About 70 Korean War veterans 
     are expected to gather at 1 p.m. for the presentation of the 
     colors and the laying of a wreath.
       Park Service spokesman Earle Kittleman said the agency was 
     pleased the work at the memorial finally was getting done. 
     For months, he had to respond to phone calls and letters from 
     concerned veterans.
       ``We want visitors to the parks to be able to walk into the 
     memorial without running into obstacles and closed areas,'' 
     he said. ``We are happy that all the parties have worked 
     together and everything will be ready for Memorial 
     Day.''

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