Speer built to exalt the state over Man. The Memorial is built to honor Man, and all that Man can be if given the chance. In time the Memorial will become a part of the landscape, part of your world. Something Speer's work could never be. The Memorial will be part of daily lives, with picnics, children playing, lovers meeting. Young and old will visit, to remember and to wonder at the young gods honored there, given a small measure of divinity by the sacrifices they made.But how will they get there?
What's more, Feldman says, "no one is asking the hard questions about what happens to that 89-year-old veteran (who visits) when the medical tents come down and the Memorial Day hoopla is over." She notes that the new memorial is "a good 15-minute walk" from the closest subway station and several blocks from the nearest public parking garages.Heh. Okay, that was a bit snarky, but it is a small part of a larger point. The WWII Generation deserves a memorial. No dispute about that. (Although I suspect the veterans of 1776 and 1861 would have a few words to say about this greatest generation stuff.) Yet, precisely because I honor their sacrifice, I think their memorial should have been appropriate - and this memorial is far from it. Neither sentimentality nor the good motives of the memorial's proponents can immunize the project from criticism. In my view, both the location and the design were highly inappropriate. Nor am I alone in this view; even a Memorial proponent like James Pinkerton admits:
A few critics denounced the boldly assertive design. It was "watered down Albert Speer," snapped The New Yorker. It was "fascist" heckled the National Committee to Save Our Mall. To be sure, the World War Two memorial makes use of pillars and vistas in a way that Hitler and his favorite architect loved.Although Pinkerton goes on to defend that choice, I still find it a pretty damning admission. I find it hard to believe that the GIs who blew up so many of Speer's facades would feel honored by this burst of neo- fascist architectural design.