A shattered memorial that once hung in the John A. Wilson Building in the 1990s was restored just in time for Veterans Day to honor some of the District’s most noble employees.
Council members Phil Mendelson, Kenyan McDuffie and Councilman-elect Vincent Gray unveiled and rededicated a historic World War II Memorial to the nearly 1,900 District government employees who served during the war on Friday, Nov. 11.
“Unfortunately when the building was renovated in the ’90s, there wasn’t much attention paid to the memorial and it broke into many pieces and got shelved in closets around the building,” Mendelson, chairman of the council said. “Vince Gray said we should really restore this and today we honor our veterans.”
In 1942, in the midst of World War II, city leaders made a decision to install a memorial in the District Building honoring city government employees serving in the armed forces during the war.
During a 1990s renovation of the building, the memorial was removed, damaged and stored in a way that its identity had become an afterthought.
Decades later, the memorial had been unearthed, but remained unidentified.
“Josh Gibson did all of the work in getting this put back together,” Mendelson said.
Gray also thanked NBC4 city government reporter Mark Segraves for his involvement in resurrecting the memorial.
“This is really about our hometown,” Segraves said. “We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for those people and their sacrifices. While we are a big city, we really are a small town and we have to honor our people.”
Both Mendelson and Gray also used the ceremony as a opportunity to call out the unfairness of the District’s taxation without representation.
“What a great day this is, the black and gold 6×11 piece will be remounted once again in the city hall and Wilson building,” Gray said. “We continue to suffer the indignity of second class citizenship in the District. “I know on November 8 the people of the District of Columbia confirmed they wanted statehood.”
Mendelson, the council chair, said the District “does the same thing as the other 50 states — we send our sons and daughters to war just like everyone else and it’s why we should have statehood.”