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Global War on Terror memorial, tribute to Medal of Honor recipients to be built in DC

Aerial view of National Mall. (Carol M. Highsmith/WikiCommons)
December 29, 2021

A National Mall memorial honoring veterans of the Global War on Terror is one step closer to becoming a reality after President Joe Biden authorized its construction, as well as a tribute to Medal of Honor recipients.

On Monday, Biden signed the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) Memorial Location Act into law, allowing the memorial to be built in the Reserve portion of the National Mall.

The memorial will be dedicated to the men and women “who have served and sacrificed in the ongoing international military campaign launched by the U.S. government following the September 11th attacks in an effort to defeat terrorists intending to harm our country and its citizens,” according to the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation.

“Today we rejoice in this monumental victory, but we also know that there is still a long road ahead before we cut the ribbon on a memorial,” said GWOT Memorial Foundation Vice-Chair Ken Hersh in a statement.

“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. 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,” he continued. “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.”

In 2019, two members of Congress and veterans of the GWOT, Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and Jason Crow (D-CO), introduced legislation to build the memorial.

“The sacrifices of this generation are all too often forgotten amidst the political debates of our time,” Crow said at the time, according to Task & Purpose. “It is our hope that by honoring the service and sacrifices of this generation in our nation’s capital, we give our service men and women the honor they are due.”

The memorial’s design has not been started, and construction on the project likely won’t begin for years.

“As a nation, we didn’t have a war memorial in our capital until 1982, with the Vietnam memorial,” said Michael Rodriguez, Chairman Emeritus of the GWOT Memorial Foundation. “So it’s important – and if you consider that it’s a relatively small population – to have a place where we can recognize those men and women who signed up and served.”

“Site effects design and vice-versa,” he added. “This is going to be a public work of art, so we want the design to work best with the space we decide on.”

Also approved on Monday were plans for a DC tribute to Medal of Honor recipients. Fewer than 4,000 Americans have earned the military’s highest honor for valor, and only 66 recipients of the Medal of Honor are alive today.