Thursday, July 2, 2015
What is the role of a memorial? Essentially, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation thinks that memorials are worthless. They believe that the only why a memorial can work is if it's got a small museum attached to it.
That's why this atrocity is going to be built next to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
I can guarantee you one thing: It'll never happen again. One of the reasons this appalling piece of crap is going to be constructed is because of the Commemorative Works Act (CWA).
Passed in 1986, the CWA governs how memorials can be approved by Congress, the National Park Service, and other federal bodies. It covers the entire United States, but there are specific sections which lay down some almost-impossible-to-meet criteria for building a memorial on the National Mall (which is largely full and has no more space), some hard-to-meet critiera for building in downtown D.C., and some somewhat-hard-to-meet critiera for building throughout the National Capitol area.
The core of the CWA is this: If you want to build a memorial, you get authorization from Congress. Then you need to raised the money to build the memorial from private sources. At least 75 percent of estimated construction funds have to be in-hand before construction begins. You need to have a maintenance trust fund equal to 10 percent of the total estimated construction amount in-hand as well.
Nothing was said about leftover funds.
Those slick bastards at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation (VVMF) continued to operate and solicit funds long after the Vietnam Veterans Memorial had been constructed. The foundation was now self-perpetuating, and had a large staff, lobbyists, and programming. The VVMF began agitating for a museum about the Vietnam War to be constructed near the memorial. To justirfy its existence, the VVMF raised significant sums of money to construct this museum (which it called a "visitor's center", so as not to alarm Smithsonian Institution officials), and it had a potent and well-organized grassroots campaign pressuring Congress to approve the plan.
In 2003, Congress closed this loophole. Now, leftover funds don't stay with the memorial's fundraising committee, but have to be turned over to the NPS for maintenance of the memorial. All memorial fundraising committees lose their right to exist after the memorial is turned over to Congress.
It's too late for the National Mall, however. Now there's going to be a big, ugly, pathetic museum dedicated JUST to the Vietnam War right next to the Lincoln Memorial.