A government regulation is getting in the way of organizers who are trying to create a memorial to those who have served in the War on Terror. The government regulation stipulates that a conflict must be finished for an extended period of time before the memorial can be built. Many think that this government regulation is getting in the way of paying respects to those who served in both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. According to the National Capital Planning Committee and the Commemorative Works Act of 1997, a conflict must have ended 10 years before such a memorial can be built. For the organizers trying to get a memorial built before 2015, this is just another example of government regulation hindering doing what’s right.
Veterans of the war on terrorism say they deserve a monument in downtown Washington to recognize their sacrifices, but they are hindered by a rule that says a conflict must be long finished in order to build a memorial, leading some to wonder how to commemorate a “never-ending war.”
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America wants a location by the end of 2015 for a monument to those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, the major battlefields of the war on terrorism.
The fighting has wound down as the war stretches into its 12th year, but veterans are struggling to define an end date.
“One of the things that’s very difficult is, because these aren’t technically declared wars, they’re operations of the global war on terror, it’s difficult to fit the statutes,” said Lauren Augustine, a member of the veterans organization’s legislative team. “We’ve been in the wars for over a decade, but it’s particularly difficult to have that closing date.”
Under the Commemorative Works Act of 1997, a war memorial can’t be authorized until at least 10 years after it officially ends, said Lucy Kempf, an urban planner with the National Capital Planning Commission.
“Usually a time lapse between an event or an individual’s death is needed, just to give some historic perspective,” she said.
The end dates of other wars were easy to determine. They were when the United States signed documents to end the country’s involvement.
All U.S. combat troops are out of Iraq and likely will be out of Afghanistan by the end of this year, so there is an easy way to mark a concrete end date to those operations, said Terry Anderson, a military history professor at Texas A&M University.
But the global war on terrorism was declared by a 2001 authorization for the use of military force that goes far broader than a single country. Indeed, it deems the shadowy, transnational al Qaeda the enemy. That makes it almost impossible to determine whether and when the conflict will end.