Twenty-seven years after his war ended, and seven years after his crusade to memorialize it began, Scott Stump stood before a presidentially appointed panel of architects and designers in June to advocate for his dream. This was the former Marine’s fourth visit to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, which is charged with protecting the grace and dignity of public space in the nation’s capital from clutter and kitsch.
Stump, from North Carolina, had discovered just how hard it can be to build anything on some of America’s most soulful ground — anything at all, let alone a memorial to Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield, those often-overlooked missions in which 700,000 Americans served and 383 were killed. Early designs featured a rightward curving wall the color of desert sand, meant to embody the “left hook” battlefield maneuver that vanquished the Iraqi army on the ground in 100 hours. Counting the initial aerial bombardment, the combat phase lasted all of six weeks.