(AP, ABC7) - The long cracked and neglected District of Columbia War Memorial honoring World War I veterans on the National Mall reopened after a $2.3 million renovation.
A ceremony Thursday marked the reopening of the memorial on Independence Avenue. It was closed more than a year.
The memorial is a ring of columns capped by a circular dome. It was built in 1931 and lists all 499 city residents who died during the war.
Rick Hinton' s great-grandfather Allen Sumner died in WWI.
“He was a Marine Corps officer, he was a Harvard grad,” Hinton said.
“Our point has been to bring more attention to this memorial, which has been forgotten and neglected over the years,” said Edwin Fountain of the WWI memorial foundation.
Federal stimulus funds covered the restoration. Contractors cleaned and restored the stone and re-pointed its joints. Electrical systems and lighting were replaced, along with the landscaping.
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray used the re-dedication as an opportunity to tie the memorial to the fight for D.C. statehood. There is proposed legislation to turn the local memorial into a national one.
“Let's re-dedicate ourselves to bringing freedom to the District of Columbia, because that is precisely what they fought for,” Gray said.
“This is not right, particularly when there's an alternative: Pershing Park,” said Joe Grano of the Rhodes Tavern D.C. heritage society, referring to a small park across from the Willard hotel that sports a statue of the World War I general.