A pair of post-9/11 veterans in Congress are pushing fellow lawmakers to lock in a prominent spot on the National Mall for the planned Global War on Terror Memorial, arguing such a location is needed to remind the American public the sacrifice of the latest generation of war heroes.
Reps. Jason Crow, D-Colo., and Mike Gallagher, R-Wisc., this week will introduce legislation mandating the memorial be placed at one of three sites in downtown Washington, D.C. All three are already sites under consideration by the National Parks Service, but the two bill sponsors say they want to ensure planning complications don’t push the memorial to a less visible area.
“We just want to make sure that this ends up in a place befitting of the sacrifice and heroism of the men and women who served,” said Crow, who did three tours of duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan with the Army. “By far this is the longest fight our country has seen. This is about recognizing those who have stepped up to serve in it.”
Two years ago, Congress approved preliminary work on the memorial, waiving typical 10-year waiting period between the end of a conflict and the start of the construction process because of the unique nature of the recent wars.
The Global War on Terror Memorial Foundation — which is handling fundraising and construction costs for the project — has announced a goal to have groundbreaking on the memorial in 2022 and dedication of the site by 2024.
Officials with the group recently conducted surveys of potential sites around Washington, D.C. but has not yet offered formal requests to the Parks Service.
Crow and Gallagher, who served with the Marine Corps in Iraq, said locking down the three potential sites will give federal officials flexibility in the memorial planning but still ensure site selection does not slow down the process.
The first site sits in Constitution Gardens, just east of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. The second is located on the Potomac River, near the Martin Luther King Jr. and Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorials.
The third is between the Korean War Veterans Memorial and the World War II Memorial. All of the sites are in areas frequented by tourists on foot and tour bus companies.
No site design work has been started yet. Officials from the foundation are in the midst of a public opinion campaign about ideas for what the memorial should include, and fundraising for the effort. The group anticipates work will cost $50 million by project’s end.
Gallagher said he is hopeful the legislation can get through Congress by the end of the year, even with the crowded legislative schedule already planned.
“This is a real bipartisan effort,” he said. “It would be a great opportunity to show the American people we can still get together on matters related to our military and veterans.”
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.