GWOT Memorial Gets Prime Spot on National Mall

GWOT Memorial Gets Prime Spot on National Mall

The House and Senate passed a bill on Dec. 14 that created a Global War on Terror Memorial in order to honor all those who served in our country’s longest war. Symbolically, the war is bookended by 9/11 and the fall of Kabul, Afghanistan, in August.

There are 24 steps in the process, including approvals from the National Capital Planning Commission, the National Park Service and other government agencies.

Many in the general public and veterans doubt the sacrifices of war were worth it, despite being launched to avenge the worst attacks against American soil. 

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley acknowledged the doubts during a Pentagon press briefing on Sept. 1, but he said "For any soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine and their family, your service mattered."

In determining the design of the memorial, a competition will be held, but the overriding theme will be the sacrifices made by servicemen and their families.

Although the design is still uncertain, there is precedent in a Global War on Terrorism Memorial on a plaza near Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia, which was dedicated in 2017 and built on the same themes of sacrifice and service that the GWOT Memorial in Washington, D.C., hopes to honor.

The memorial would be constructed within the National Mall Reserve, the 1.8-mile stretch between the Capitol and Lincoln Memorial where the World War II Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Korean War Veterans Memorial are located.

Congress authorized the GWOT Memorial by excluding it from the Commemorative Works Act, which prohibited additional memorials on the Reserve and deferred war memorials for at least 10 years. 

The number of troops in Syria and Iraq is still about 800 and 2,500, respectively.

Jackman was confident that construction will begin by 2024 if the foundation raises at least 75% of the $50 million cost privately.

Joni Ernst, who is a part of the Iowa National Guard and an Iraq veteran, and Maggie Hassan, a Democrat from New Hampshire, lobbied for a space on the Mall for a GWOT Memorial.

Despite not being included in the NDAA, it was passed by the House in July and approved by the Senate on Nov. 18.

Earlier on, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved the Monument of Honor, a monument dedicated to the ideals embodied by the recipients of the nation's highest valor award.

The National Desert Storm Memorial Association was raising funds to break ground for a Desert Storm Memorial, which had already won site designation and design approval before Congress took action.

Kuwait was liberated from Saddam Hussein's forces following the swift defeat of his forces in 1991. The memorial site was located off Constitution Avenue and 23rd Street NW, off the core section of the National Mall, but at a prime location just down the rise from the Lincoln Memorial and across the driveway from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Stump said the plan is now to start construction by year's end in 2022 if sufficient funds can be raised through private donations. Originally, the association hoped to break ground for the Desert Storm Memorial on Veterans Day in 2021.

A promise from Kuwait for another $10 million brings the association's private donations to about $9.8 million, well short of the 75% it needs to begin construction.

Stump said, however, that the association is optimistic about their plans because of the amount of activity they’re already seen surrounding the fundraiser.

"We are hopeful and optimistic that several of those asks are going to come through to put us over the top."

Stump suggested that the Desert Storm Memorial be built near the other war memorials in order to cement it in the nation's collective memory of a conflict that brought 35 nations together. Just because it was a short war didn’t mean it should be left as a footnote in history, Stump said.

Desert Storm ended much of the tension between the American public and the military resulting from the Vietnam War syndrome, Stump said. This memorial tells the story of the end of the war.