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Monumental Fights

Washington: The Classical City

Last June, the Program on American Citizenship teamed with the National Civic Art Society to present a panel discussion on the important role that memorials play in civic life, using the recent controversies over the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and the proposed Eisenhower Memorial to guide the conversation. You can watch the full discussion between panelists Michael J. Lewis (Williams College), Roger Scruton (AEI), Bruce Cole (Hudson Institute) and Diana Schaub (Loyola University Maryland) here. In the January 17th issue of the Witherspoon Institute’s Public Discourse, the National Civic Art Society continued the conversation.

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The power of a name

At our public panel discussion in May on “Monumental fights,” we considered the important role played by public memorials in civic life. Now, writing over at City Journal, Allan Greenberg, a former professor of architecture at Yale and the author of Architecture of Democracy, provides his thoughts on the civic role played by one memorial in particular: the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which turns thirty in November.

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Doing right by Ike

In the last few weeks, The Weekly Standard has published two articles discussing Dwight D. Eisenhower and the proposed memorial in honor of him, designed by architect Frank Gehry.

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House Appropriations Subcommittee denies Eisenhower Memorial funding

In the latest in the long saga regarding Frank Gehry’s proposed design for the Eisenhower Memorial (more background here), yesterday the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies unveiled a draft bill that would deny the $59.8 million budgetary request by the Eisenhower Memorial Commission.

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The follower problem

In today’s New York Times, David Brooks takes a look at how the monuments we build reflect our national character–and how, given the disappointment of recent monuments (e.g., the World War II, FDR, MLK Jr., and the proposed Eisenhower Memorial), more thought about that leadership would be a good thing.

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Eisenhower memorial criticism all around

As criticism of the proposed memorial has grown, so too have attacks on the critics. Writing in the Architectural Record about the Program’s recent event on memorials, Ben Adler characterized the monument’s critics as simply conservative “curmudgeons” who will “always revile Modernism for both ideological and aesthetic reasons.”

Responding to Adler in the same journal, the Program’s Gary Schmitt and Cheryl Miller write, “In defending architectural Modernism, Adler falls into the very trap he warns against.”

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Event re-cap: Monumental Fights


Missed Friday’s discussion on “Monumental fights: The role of memorials in civic life”? Don’t worry–you can watch the video of the event here, read about it it in the Washington Examiner, or check out our event re-cap.

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Revising Eisenhower–and his Memorial

The Washington Examiner reports that revisions to the proposed Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial will be revealed on Tuesday.

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The Decline of American Monuments

As we look forward to our May 18 discussion panel on “Monumental Fights: The Role of Memorials in Civic Life” (register at the link) with the National Civic Art Society, we will be showcasing essays on the subject to help us prepare for the discussion. Today’s selection is by panelist and Williams College professor of art Michael J. Lewis, who writes on “The Decline of American Monuments and Memorials” in this month’s Imprimis.

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Upcoming event: Monumental Fights

Over the past year, the recently dedicated Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Memorial and the planned Eisenhower Memorial have renewed controversy about the meaning and purpose of public memorials. What do America’s memorials and monuments tell us about our nation and our identity as citizens? How should we memorialize past events and individuals? In this event, co-sponsored by the Program on American Citizenship and the National Civic Art Society, a distinguished panel will address these questions and comment on the MLK and Eisenhower memorials.

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AEI