Franklin Delano Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945, and for the past 30 of the 40 years since, the FDR Memorial Commission has been trying to get the funds to build a memorial to him in West Potomac Park.
"We're going to stay with it until it's completed," said Eugene J. Keogh, the commission's 85-year-old chairman.
The controversial $31 million memorial, a garden wall to be built around the western edge of the Tidal Basin, was authorized by Congress in 1982 but has received no major funding other than $900,000 to complete architectural drawings.
Keogh said the commission has a request before the House Interior subcommittee for $5 million "to get started," but that approval of the appropriation is in doubt.
Last year, an environmental impact statement on the memorial noted that it would wipe out 8.8 acres of heavily used playing fields in the park and eliminate the much-traveled drive beside the Tidal Basin cherry trees.
The planned memorial is a scaled-down version of the one originally conceived, which would have been the most expensive built in the United States It also would have been the most expensive to maintain.
Congress chartered the commission in 1955 and authorized the 27-acre West Potomac Park site for it in 1959. But the 12-member commission took years to come up with a suitable design.
There currently is one modest monument to FDR, who was the only president elected to the office four times. It is a desk-sized block of white marble inscribed with his name, standing near the National Archives, and it is all the memorial that FDR said he ever wanted.