Some Veterans Want A Memorial For War That Isn’t Over Yet

Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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The global war on terror is, by all measures, ongoing, but some veterans and lawmakers say the U.S. shouldn’t wait to begin developing a Washington, D.C., memorial to honor the veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Two Marine Corps veterans turned congressmen have proposed legislation to authorize the design and construction of a Global War on Terrorism Memorial in the nation’s capital to commemorate the thousands of American service members who lost their lives in the last 16 years of conflict in the Middle East.

“I served in Iraq with some of the best Americans I know, and we owe this to all of them, to their families, and to the young men and women who continue put their lives on the line for us today,” Democratic Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton, who served four combat tours in Iraq as an infantry officer, said in a statement announcing the bill.

“During my service in the Marine Corps I served alongside countless brave men and women, some of whom paid the ultimate sacrifice in the Global War on Terrorism,” said Republican Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher, a cosponsor of the legislation. “This piece of legislation honors their service and memorializes their legacy for future generations.”

“Republican or Democrat, it doesn’t matter. Memorializing the service and sacrifice of more than 6,800 fallen United States service members is an American matter,” Gallagher said.

Groups hoping to plan the Global War on Terrorism Memorial need legislation because current law prohibits use of federal land for memorials until at least 10 years have passed since the “officially designated end of conflict.” Moulton’s legislation would exempt the memorial from having to wait until the conflict was over.

Starting work on the memorial now is important to truly honor veterans of the conflicts in the Middle East, according to advocates of the memorial.

“A 40-year-old service member that seized the first airfield in Kandahar [Afghanistan] in 2001 is now 56,” Andrew Brennan, executive director of the Global War on Terror Memorial Foundation, told Military Times. “Given that these efforts often take five to seven years, we’re in a position where that service member may be taking grandchildren to see the memorial for the war he fought in.”

Moulton used the World War II monument in D.C., completed in 2004, as an example of waiting too long to memorialize a war. “My grandfather served in WWII, but he never got a chance to visit the memorial.”

“I want to make sure that’s not the case for so many of our War on Terror veterans today,” Moulton said.

This isn’t the first time Congress has moved to authorize work on a War on Terror memorial. Former Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke, now secretary of the interior, proposed a similar bill in September during the last Congressional session. That bill never made it out of committee.

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