In today’s politically charged climate, it seems any legislation would take a miracle to pass the House, Senate, and then approved by the President, but the approval to build a Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) Memorial did just that. Now comes the tough part, finding a location on the National Mall then funding the building of the memorial. Funding does not come from taxpayers but solely from donations. Donations in the form of approximately $50 million.
How did a proposed memorial for GWOT even come to realization? In late 2016, former Congressman Ryan Zinke introduced legislation to authorize the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation to establish a National Global War on Terrorism Memorial in Washington, D.C. With Zinke departing Congress, Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-WI), and Congressman Seth Moulton (D-MA), both GWOT veterans championed legislation to authorize the memorial. The bill quickly passed the House. Similarly, the Senate, through Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), championed the Senate measure. Passing the House and Senate, there was one step left, approval by the President. In August 2017, President Trump signed the National Global War on Terrorism War Memorial Act into law handing off the task to the GWOT Foundation to make it happen, get the memorial built.
The location of the memorial has not been set and ultimately needs approval by the House, Senate, and President when a proposed site is finally established. Seemingly moving at a similar fashion as the establishment of a GWOT Memorial, the current Act has bi-partisan sponsorship in the House by Congressman Jason Crow, (D-CO), and Congressman Mike Gallagher, (R-WI) where it is moving through the legislative process.
The GWOT Foundation is responsible for raising the $50 million. President and CEO of the foundation, Michael "Rod" Rodriguez, a retired Special Forces Green Beret, said, "The Foundation believes that our service members, their families, and the American people deserve a fitting memorial where our country can learn about, reflect and honor their endurance and sacrifice. By building this memorial in the Reserve (National Mall), we can show the now multiple generations who have served in the Global War on Terrorism and future generations that their service is just as appreciated by our country as the service of the World War II, Vietnam and Korean War generations. We believe that the selfless service by an all-volunteer group of warriors to defend our nation is the most compelling reason this generation has earned the recognition to stand alongside other major war memorials in the Reserve."
Support from the veteran community is strong. I reached out to several of my veteran friends, including former Navy SEAL, Eli Crane. Eli joined the Navy a week after the 9/11 attacks. Eli said, “America and many of our people have suffered great loss in the fight to defend against and destroy radical ideologies that threaten our way of life. As someone who felt strongly enough to join the military the week after 9/11, I would appreciate it if our country supported a monument that I could share with my brothers and sisters in arms and family members. People tend to forget that this is the longest war we have ever fought that will probably never end. A monument would serve as a rallying point for those who have fought, those who have lost loved ones and a reminder that again, freedom is not free.”
Our Nation’s GWOT has been waged for almost two decades. From Afghanistan to Iraq to Syria and beyond, close to five million service members have served, over seven thousand have been killed, and over 52,000 wounded.
My military service, active and reserve duty in the U.S. Army, spanned from 1993 to 2006 and included a tour in Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom. My wife’s service spanned from 1991 to 2004, active and reserve components, with a year-long domestic tour supporting the GWOT. My children have never witnessed our Nation not at war. The time for a memorial is now.
Dr. Jason Piccolo (@DRJasonPiccolo) has been in federal law enforcement for over twenty years. He is a former U.S. Army Captain (Operation Iraqi Freedom) with service from 1993 to 2006, both active and reserve components.