The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

January 14, 2013

Other Views: Temporary has different meaning to government

“Temporary” to the U.S. government’s way of thinking does not mean the same as it does to you or me in the sense of “here for a while and then soon gone.”

The great monument to the government’s sense of “temporary” was a sprawling complex of barracks-like gray buildings hastily thrown up in Washington, D.C., on the National Mall to accommodate the need for extra office space during World War I and World War II.

They were to be torn down immediately on the conclusion of those wars and the area returned to the original park-like state. In the end they were not torn down until the 1970s, and only then thanks to nearly six years of ceaseless badgering by President Richard Nixon.

Now, a 42-acre site of prime capital real estate containing 1 million square feet of “temporary” wartime space is finally being cleared of a complex of seven drab four-story buildings that are more than 65 years past their “raze-by” date.

Originally erected as temporary warehouses on the eve of World War II, they were quickly pressed into service as Navy and Marine Corps offices when hostilities broke out, thus illustrating a key law of government: For any empty space, a function will form to fill it.

Indeed, the grim recesses of what came to be called the Navy Annex were where the Marine Corps directed its World War II island-hopping campaign and the Navy Command Center camped after the 9/11 attacks wrecked its offices in the Pentagon.

The buildings might still have survived except for a grandiose government scheme to disperse national security facilities farther out into the capital suburbs. Naturally, the planners picked two of the most congested suburban locations in Virginia and Maryland, leaving it up to the local jurisdictions to decide how best to cope with the traffic.

That may be why the savvy bureaucrats were reluctant to leave their Soviet-style, but easily accessible, temporary quarters. The government stepped up pressure, ending food service and removing the ATMs, and now the stopgap complex thrown up in 1941 is finally empty and undergoing demolition.

The site, however, will acquire a new permanence. It will be incorporated into rapidly filling Arlington National Cemetery. It’s an honorable fate for an unloved complex that, however humbly, served its country well, if far longer than intended.

 

1
Text Only
Opinion
Local News
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Poll

A new provision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture allows qualifying districts with high percentages of students on food assistance to allow all students to eat free breakfasts and lunches. Would you agree with this provision?

Yes
No
     View Results
Facebook
NDN Video
Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Palestinians and Israeli Soldiers Clash Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive
Sports