WORLD WAR II MEMORIAL….The new World War II memorial in Washington has come in for a fair amount of criticism based on the idea that it’s too neoclassical and too militaristic, a “banal, bombastic ‘Soviet-style pomposity.’” In the Prospect today, historian Nicolaus Mills explains why this criticism is off base:
You were able to look through all of the designs that were submitted for this memorial. Do you think the right one was chosen?
It was the strongest and the most accessible of the submissions. It not only adapts a neoclassical style (and so is in symmetry with the two memorials that bracket it); it is also a memorial that the troops coming back in 1945 would have recognized as something that spoke in an architectural vocabulary that they knew all their lives.
That’s exactly right. Maya Lin’s famous Vietnam memorial is built in a style that appeals to its generation and the WWII memorial is built in a style that appeals to its generation ? and that’s exactly how it should be. Good for Mills for making this obvious, but often overlooked, point.