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The 17 year struggle to build the World War II Memorial.

  • Dec 24, 2008
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In "Their Last Battle:  The Fight For The National World War II Memorial" author Nicolaus Mills discusses the seemingly endless struggle to build a National World War II Memorial on the Mall in Washington D.C.  The fact of the matter is it took nearly 17 years to get the job done.  What was all the fuss about and who could possibly object to building such a memorial to honor the accomplishments of the so-called "Greatest Generation"?   In order to fully appreciate the issues involved here one must fully understand the history of the Mall in our Nation's Capitol.  Furthermore, one needs to be familiar with the history of monuments in this country.  Mills does an admirable job getting the reader up to speed in both of these areas.
From there Mills takes us on a 17 year journey that commences at a fish fry just outside Toledo, Ohio in 1987 to the dedication in the Spring of 2004.  Mills introduces us to all of the important players in this odyssey from World War II veteran Roger Durbin who first proposed the idea to Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) and former Senator Bob Dole (R-KS) who were both very instrumental in bringing this project to fruition.  You'll learn about all of the various governmental agencies who would become involved.  Find out about the design competition and meet the eventual winner Friedrich St. Florian, former dean of the Rhode Island School of Design. A nd finally, you will discover who the opponents were. There were quite a few and at several key junctures it seemed as though the opposition just might carry the day.  I found "Their Last Battle: The Fight For The National World War II Memorial" to be an exceptionally well written book that managed to hold my interest from cover to cover.    Highly recommended! 

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Paul Tognetti ()
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I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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On Memorial Day weekend in 2004, the National World War II Memorial on the Mall in Washington will officially open to the public. What began as a casual conversation between a Congresswoman and one of her constituents in 1987 grew into a struggle that lasted more than four times longer than it took America to fight the war itself. Its rocky progress to completion is a compelling story about how America chooses to memorialize its past and how we view World War II. Nicolaus Mills recounts the development of the Washington Mall, from its time as swampland to Southern outrage over the Lincoln Memorial to Maya Lin's controversial Vietnam Veterans' Memorial. The World War II Memorial would prove just as controversial; it took the support of WW II vet Bob Dole and actor Tom Hanks to overrule the strong objections of interest groups, self-appointed art critics, and others. In Their Last Battle, a story vividly narrated through interviews with politicians and vets, architects and citizens, Mills discovers what a public monument can tell us about America and the values it honors.

Nicolaus MillsKira Brunner is an editor of Radical Society magazine and lives in New York City. Nicolaus Mills is Professor of American Studies at Sarah Lawrence College and lives in New York City.
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ISBN-10: 0465045820
ISBN-13: 978-0465045822
Author: Nicolaus Mills
Publisher: Basic Books
Date Published: May 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
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