Much of the criticism of the National World War II Memorial has centered on its being somewhat generic -- the feeling that despite its inscriptions and the steles of the states, it could be mistaken for a memorial to some other cause or to the victims of a disaster.
Missing from the monument is a visual, visceral sense that it commemorates a "world" war. That could -- and should -- be corrected.
First, 17th Street should be depressed so that commuters are not in competition for roadway space with Mall pedestrians. Then, a slightly arched, wide bridge should be built to span the depressed highway.
This bridge could provide practical, safe passage to the Mall for pedestrians, wheelchair users and bicyclists. It also could serve as an emotional passage to the memorial itself -- if it were inscribed with a world map locating all the major military engagements of World War II. The map could include captions of the salient facts of that global cataclysm too. At night, the war's battle areas could be illuminated.
Who among us, standing atop a light at Normandy, within the frame of the Capitol and the other magnificent monuments on the Mall, could fail to be inspired to a deeper remembrance of that battle, that war and the meaning of patriotism?
As an added benefit, the bridge could be used as a launching platform for the July 4 fireworks, which now present a scarring hazard to the new memorial.
With the addition of a map-bridge, no one would remain in doubt as to the purpose and meaning of the World War II Memorial. And long after the last of that war's veterans have gone, the bridge would continue to connect visitors to that seminal event in the history of our nation.
-- Arthur Cotton Moore