It is common knowledge how marble is expensive. It is that way because of how durable and classy it is. This natural stone is often sought-after by wealthy people who want a lavish home. But did you know an entire slab of marble was rejected by the US Congress?
In 2003, John Haines donated a marble slab that cost $31,000 to repair the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington. Unfortunately, the US Congress rejected the donation because it did not go through a competitive bidding process.
John Haines’ Donation
John Haines’, a retired Glenwood Springs car dealer, heard about the cracked Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery and decided to donate a giant chunk of snow-white marble. The $31,000 slab was presented to the federal government but has not been used to fix the said damage.
The marble slab has been sitting outside the Yule Quarry since it was cut for the tomb in 2003. According to the US Congress, Haines’ donation creates a problem for the federal government because it is free and has not gone through a bidding and specification process. Authorities know that the marble needed to be replaced 18 years ago and estimated the cost to be around $2.2 million.
Haines, on the other hand, made a final payment for the marble slab in 2008. He has also secured transportation for the piece on a flag-decorated flatbed. He even received a letter from an Army major general in 2003 thanking him for his kind and generous donation.
It’s not doable. A citizen can’t just give us any piece of marble and say, ‘This is what we’ll use to replace the tomb.’Thurman Higginbotham, Deputy Superintendent of Arlington
Haines’ marble slab was not just any ordinary marble slab. It was actually cut from the very same Yule Quarry where the original gold-veined marble was minded for the Tomb of the Unknowns. The marble outside of the Lincoln Memorial also came from the very same quarry. Haines’ had the piece cut after searching for an unflawed piece for over five years.
It was a very emotional moment when they separated it from the wall and it got the thumbs-up. The History of Marble.David Showalter, Historical Filmmaker
(Source: Denver Post)
The Tomb of the Unknowns
The original monument sits above a vault containing the remains of an unknown soldier from World War I. Crypt of unidentified World War II and Korean War soldiers were placed nearby.
The tomb itself was carefully adorned with laurel wreaths and Greek figures. It was meant to symbolize the sacrifice of all soldiers, which is precisely why the delayed replacement of the marble piece has caused some emotional debate. In the 1930s, the tomb started to show cracks that were caused by weathering. Reports say that they have recommended the replacement of the piece and encasing it a weatherproof structure.
Since the discovery of the cracks, two repairs have been attempted, but the cracks got bigger. As of 2008, the cracks have reached 48 feet on each side, with a third crack showing up at the base. Arlington cannot take any action without congressional approval. If a replacement is decided, there will be a lengthy process in determining who does the replacement.
Meanwhile, the donated slab of marble is left unused. Haines said if it weren’t used for the tomb, he would prefer to sell it back to the quarry, where it will be cut up and sold for other projects instead.
I understand how the government works, but there comes a point when you just say ‘to hell with it.John Haines
(Source: Denver Post)