A native Arkansan is leading the design of a World War I Memorial in Washington, DC. On Thursday, 25-year-old Joseph Weishaar was honored for his role in the project during a ceremony at the Arkansas State Capitol that formally established a centennial commemoration committee for the state.
Weishaar is a recent graduate of the University of Arkansas Fay Jones School of Architecture who today lives in Chicago, but is preparing to move to Washington to oversee the project.
"This whole process from beginning back in January so far has been overwhelming, this just keeps adding to it, but its been incredible and I’m glad to be here today to kick off for the state," Weishaar told KUAR.
The design by Weishaar and New York sculptor Sabin Howard was selected by a Congressional commission in January from 360 submitted. He says he first learned about the contest to design the memorial online.
"As soon as I came across the competition, I had this realization, the wheels started turning and I said, ‘Wait, there’s not a World War I Memorial?’ And so I did a quick search and as soon as I learned there wasn’t, that was one of those times that I said, I’ve got to be a part of this in some way."
The bronze and granite memorial is to be built in Pershing Park near the White House and be completed by the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, November 11, 2018.
At this point Weishaar says he and his team are in the design review process, preparing some alternatives for different components of the memorial.
They're budgeting for it to cost $45 million, which he says is on the high end. It could easily cost less, but Weishaar says they're adding an extra 10 percent to the price tag, expecting some needed materials might go up in cost. It's being funded entirely through private donations, and Weishaar is encouraging those interested to donate online.
People can learn more about the project and see images of its design here.
Thursday's event included Gov. Asa Hutchinson signing an executive order establishing the Arkansas World War I Centennial Commemoration Committee, which will plan a series of events throughout the state between now and anniversary of the end of the war.
"I am honored to be able to sign this order creating a committee to plan ways for our state to commemorate the courage, sacrifice and valiant efforts of the more than 71,000 soldiers from Arkansas who served their country during World War I," Hutchinson said.
Department of Arkansas Heritage Director Stacy Hurst will manage and coordinate the work of the committee, Hutchinson said. Other members of the committee will be:
- Dr. Raymond Screws, director of the Arkansas National Guard Museum
- Dr. Lisa Speer, Arkansas State Historian
- Lt. Col. Matt Snead, director of the Arkansas Department of Veteran’s Affairs, or a designee
- Lt. Col. Joel Lynch, public affairs officer of the Arkansas National Guard
- Peter MacKeith, dean of the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas, or a designee of the school
- Three at-large appointees selected by the Governor: Major General Mark Berry, adjutant general, Arkansas National Guard Retired Lt. Col. Ken Griffin, military and veterans affairs officer, Office of the Governor Dr. Shawn Fisher, professor of history, Harding University