Global War on Terrorism Heroes to Be Honored on National Mall

December 28, 2021 by Dan McCue
Global War on Terrorism Heroes to Be Honored on National Mall
The Lincoln Memorial and the Reflecting Pool stretch east toward the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building two miles away. (Photo courtesy the National Parks Service)

WASHINGTON — A new memorial honoring all those who have served in the global war on terrorism since the Sept. 11 attacks is coming to the National Mall.

President Joe Biden signed S.535, the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Location Act, into law on Monday as a part of the annual defense bill, the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2022.

The bipartisan bill authorizes construction of a memorial in the reserve area of the mall, which extends roughly from the Lincoln Memorial to the U.S. Capitol and from the White House to the Jefferson Memorial.

It was sponsored by Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., with Reps. Jason Crow, D-Colo., and Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., championing it in the House.

Together, they garnered the support of more than 50 Democrats and Republicans in Congress, 

influential public figures and the six surviving secretaries of Defense — spanning Democratic and Republican administrations. 

“In the wake of 9/11, millions of Americans answered the call to keep America safe, sacrificing life and limb to protect our homeland and to fight the enemies of freedom the world over,” said Ernst. 

“The time to honor these heroes of our nation’s longest war and their families is now, and there is no more fitting way to do that than with a memorial on our National Mall to serve as a permanent testament of their selflessness for generations to come,” she said. “Today, after a years-long effort, I can proudly say that this memorial will soon become a reality. The time has finally come — it’s a done deal!”

Hassan said there is no more fitting place for such a memoria than the National Mall, which she said represents the country’s history, “the challenges we have faced and the sacrifices we have made for freedom.”

“To not have a memorial to the brave men and women who fought in the Global War on Terrorism is inexcusable, and an injustice to our service members and their families who have given so much,” Hassan said. 

“Today, that changes. I am so honored to have helped lead this effort with Sen. Ernst and to see this bill signed into law. It is a testament to the service members and their families who have given so much to their country, and continue to advocate for this memorial’s rightful place on our National Mall,” she said.

To further the effort to establish the memorial a group of veterans, military spouses and their supporters formed the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation in 2015.

On Monday, Ted Skokos, chairman of the 501(c)(3) corporation, said in written statement that the group was thankful for the bipartisan support of Congress and that of President Biden and extended the foundations “deepest gratitude … to all the supporters who worked alongside us to advocate for a memorial on the National Mall.”

The Reserve Area Map maintained by the National Capital Planning Commission.

“We could not have gotten to this point without the help of our allies on Capitol Hill who have been steadfastly committed to providing a place where Americans can learn, heal, and reflect,” Skokos said. “We’ve also been blessed to have the support of 35 veterans service organizations and countless other non-veteran supporters. In addition, we are in debt to the powerful voices of Gold Star families who have urged that their fallen loved ones be recognized and honored for their selfless willingness to sacrifice all for their country.”

Also commenting on the memorial legislation becoming law were Gold Star parents Terry and Beth Burgess, the parents of Army Staff Sgt. Bryan Burgess, who died on March 29, 2011, afer enemy forces attacked his unit at the Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.

The Burgesses, with Bryan’s widow Tiffany Burgess, said their hearts “are truly warmed knowing that Bryan’s sacrifice for family, country and freedom will be memorialized in this tribute at our nation’s capital.” 

“We’re sure that every Gold Star family from the Global War on Terrorism would agree that this memorial is going to be a treasured place to gather in the spirit of turning grief into honor,” they said.

The actor Gary Sinise, a longtime advocate for veterans, said “with thousands of servicemembers making the ultimate sacrifice during 20 years of war post 9/11, it is our nation’s duty to remember and to honor them and the price paid by their families by dedicating a sacred space on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. for the Global War on Terror Memorial.”

While Monday was a day of rejoicing over the signing of the legislation, Ken Hersh, vice chair of the memorial foundation said there’s still a long way to go before a ribbon is cut on the actual memorial.

The next step for the foundation is to work with the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission to identify an appropriate site for the Memorial and to obtain approval from the National Capital Planning Commission and the Commission of Fine Arts for the site.

“As we begin a more in-depth process of evaluating potential locations, and all that process entails, we look forward to working closely with the National Park Service and other authorities and stakeholders,” Hersh said. “Our goal is to create an inclusive and enduring place of honor for all who served and were impacted by this conflict, whether in uniform or otherwise. Since this memorial will not be built with any government funding, we will continue to depend on the generosity and support of Americans who share our commitment to the cause.”
Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue.

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