Search Penny Hill Press

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Monuments and Memorials Authorized Under the Commemorative Works Act in the District of Columbia: Background and Current Developments

Jacob R. Straus
Analyst on the Congress

Since the enactment of the Commemorative Works Act (CWA) in 1986, Congress has authorized 28 commemorative works to be placed in the District of Columbia or its environs. These works have been authorized to honor individuals (e.g., Francis Scott Key, Mahatma Gandhi, and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.), wars (e.g., Korean War and World War II), specific veterans groups (e.g., Women in Military Service for America, African-American Civil War- Union Soldiers and Sailors), and events (e.g., Victims of Communism and Ukrainian Famine Victims). Once a commemorative work has been authorized, Congress continues to be responsible for statutorily designating a memorial site location.

This report provides a status update on the 28 authorized works, including whether the work has been completed, is in-progress, or has an elapsed authorization. The report also provides a rationale for each authorized work, as expressed by a Member of Congress, as well as the statutory authority for its creation; and identifies the group or groups sponsoring the commemoration, agency managing the project (e.g., National Park Service), location (or proposed location) of the memorial, and date dedicated (or scheduled date, if known). A picture or rendering of each work is also included, when available. The Appendix includes a map showing each completed and in-progress memorial’s location.

Prior to the enactment of the CWA in 1986, Congress was often involved in the authorization, planning, design, and site placement of memorials in the District of Columbia and its environs. The CWA was enacted to manage congressional responsibility for planning the details of future monuments and memorials and to establish a statutory framework for ensuring that commemorative works placed in areas administered by the National Park Service and the General Services Administration in the District of Columbia and its environs “are (1) appropriately designed, constructed, and located and (2) reflect a consensus of the lasting significance of the subjects involved.”

Responsibility for overseeing the design, construction, and maintenance of future commemorative works was delegated to the Secretary of the Interior or the Administrator of the General Services Administration (depending on whether the National Park Service or the General Services Administration owns the land where the memorial will be located), the National Capital Planning Commission, the United States Commission on Fine Arts, and the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission. Additionally, the CWA restricts placement of commemorative works to certain areas of the District of Columbia based on the subject’s historic importance.

For more information on the Commemorative Works Act, see CRS Report R41658, Commemorative Works in the District of Columbia: Background and Practice, by Jacob R. Straus.

Date of Report: February 14, 2013
Number of Pages: 55
Order Number: R42128
Price: $29.95

To Order:

R42128.pdf  to use the SECURE SHOPPING CART


Phone 301-253-0881

For email and phone orders, provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.