A City of Memorials Finds Itself Filling Up (Washington, DC)

WASHINGTON, Dec. 29 — This supremely political city has a keen sense of history and its uses. So, not surprisingly, it also has a thing for memorials: marble, granite and otherwise. Six presidents and seven wars have monumental tributes in or near downtown Washington.

But presidents are not the only people so honored. Ground was broken for the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial on the Mall six weeks ago, and Congress has approved a monument to Francis Marion, the “Swamp Fox” of the Carolinas during the Revolutionary War. Most recently, it approved one to millions of victims of the 1932-33 Ukrainian Holodomor, or famine.

Wait. The Ukrainian famine? A monument to be built on federal land by the Ukrainian government? Whose history is this?

That question, raised in the 1990s about another foreign memorial, has since ricocheted around the National Park Service and the National Capital Planning Commission, the agencies most responsible for monitoring the conception, creation and placement of new museums and commemorative works in the federal city.

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