Mr. Wheeler's suggestion for making Memorial Hall into a chapel in memory of the Harvard dead in the late war is interesting in that it reflects the need for action on the War Memorial question. A committee is now considering the ways and means for building a suitable tribute: if it does not soon announce its decision some one will place an obelisk on the roof of Sever Hall.
Mr. Wheeler contends that Memorial Hall is suitable because it has a cathedral exterior and can be easily remodeled inside. He finds it shameful that such a building should play so little part in the daily life of the student, and sees no objection to combining the memorials to the dead of two wars under one roof. He also puts forward the prominent position of the structure as an argument for making it the new chapel.
The question is not the facility of the proposed change, but its desirability. In the first place a chapel outside the Yard would be most undesirable. And it would be a detraction to the herces of the World War to give them a makeshift memorial in a building dedicated to other heroes.
Then again, granted that Memorial Hall has a prominent position, there is no cause for emphasizing that prominence. The cathedralesque exterior of which Mr. Wheeler speaks is an architectural monstrosity, an abortive blot on the landscape. The new memorial should at least be pleasant to look upon.
Finally, and most important, a useful monument is an insult to the memory of the dead. Even a chapel would be a useful monument, on the door of which posterity might well read, "Dedicated with One Eye on the Memory of the Harvard Dead, and other on the Seating Requirements of the Harvard Living." Such a memorial would lose its sacred majesty amid the laughter of men who no longer believe in the pragmatic philosophy, "It's good if it works."