The Advocates: Making an Icon

WRITTEN BY lclark 6 months ago

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Picture Paris. What leaps to mind first?

Probably the Eiffel Tower. Or maybe the Louvre or Notre Dame Cathedral. You may love Paris for its grand cafés, crusty baguettes and tree-lined boulevards, but a mental image of the city will certainly include its iconic landmark structures.

Now, do the same mental exercise with Charleston. Are you seeing the Ravenel Bridge? Maybe the Pineapple Fountain or the Yorktown? Perhaps one of the many “Holy City” churches, with their steeples inspiring us, like them, to reach for the heavens.

A decade from now I bet you’ll also picture the National Medal of Honor Museum.

Slated to be built at Patriots Point in Mount Pleasant, the National Medal of Honor Museum will give American heroes a home and will ensure that their legacy is shared for generations to come. As the only military museum to recognize all branches of the armed services, it will highlight the recipients of our nation’s highest military award and stand for the values embodied in the medal: courage, sacrifice and patriotism.

I can think of no place in the country more fitting than the Charleston region to host such an important institution. We are distinguished as a Great American Defense Community and have embraced military families for generations. There is probably no place in the region more scenic, or more appropriate, for this landmark than Patriots Point.

The purpose, vision and location fit perfectly. It’s a slam dunk project for the region, destined to create another iconic landmark and another reason Charleston is a must-visit destination. Right?

Well… the design of the National Medal of Honor Museum has generated some differences of opinion. The original design was recently altered by its world-renowned architect to reduce its height in response to its rejection by the Mount Pleasant Planning Commission for being too tall. It seems some would prefer an iconic structure that is even less noticeable on the skyline.

The controversy actually puts the National Medal of Honor Museum in pretty good company. During construction, the Eiffel Tower was called an “odious column of bolted metal.” Esteemed public figures of late 19th century Paris published a protest letter claiming the tower was, “like a gigantic black factory chimney, its barbarous mass overwhelming and humiliating all our monuments and belittling our works of architecture.”

More than a century later, no one can envision Paris without it.

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