To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
Whenever the project of a War Memorial comes to the fore, there are two schools of thought as to what basic idea should guide the design of it. There is the so-called practical idea; that the memorial should be "useful", that it should not be just a pile of masonry and bronze and as such, be just a waste of money. Then there is the sentimental idea; that the memorial should seek to radiate the thought of heroic sacrifice, something that should instantly arrest the attention of every beholder as something worthy of personal thought, followed by personal patriotic devotion.
Personally, my sympathy lies entirely with the latter idea. I cannot agree when a great state, municipality or university attempts to honor its dead in a utilitarian project. Such a project becomes merely a handle by which it may be easier to raise a vast sum of money--for the benefit of the living. No trifling tablet in the front vestibule will render the project an appropriate WAR MEMORIAL.
What is the aim to be sought in creating a memorial? The feeling which should be sought is one of reflex action on the spirit of the beholder, to awaken a vital, motivating incentive to higher and nobler sacrificial patriotic living. The utilitarian type, with its appeal chiefly to the physical senses, fails completely to touch the realm of the spirit. Is there any more "practical" or more "useful" ambition than to aim to consummate a memorial so designed and so executed as to keep over before the senses of passers-by the devotion to duty of those we seek to honor...
May I suggest that you, Mr. Harvard, read thoughtfully again Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, go over to the Memorial Church, and then ask yourself whether bowling alleys, swimming pools, facilities for dramatics, and similar whatnots for personal enjoyment, or even for personal self-improvement, really yield the answer to the War Memorial question.
By all means, endeavor to create a center for student activities but I ask reverently, in God's name, don't try to label it a WAR MEMORIAL. The fact that Yale, Dartmouth and maybe other universities are planning to raise millions for Activities Centers should not divert Harvard from the path leading to a truly inspiring project that will be plainly and solely a WAR MEMORIAL. Harry E. Warren '04