July 23, 2017

By Astead W. Herndon

The National Mall is chock-full of monuments to America’s war dead: the fountains and pools of the World War II Memorial, the relentless, black wedge of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the haunting statuary of the Korean War Memorial. Yet to be memorialized, however, are the estimated 7,000 men and women who have died in the longest conflict in the country’s history. It’s a war that began on 9/11, has shifted across multiple countries including Iraq and Afghanistan, has often been conducted under a cloak of secrecy, and still has no foreseeable end — even after 16 years of conflict. But a fresh effort to honor the fallen veterans of what has become known as the Global War on Terrorism is underway, in the form of bipartisan legislation cosponsored by two Marines-turned-legislators, Representative Seth Moulton, a Salem Democrat, and Representative Mike Gallagher, a Wisconsin Republican. The bill would waive a 1986 law that says a federal memorial cannot be built on the Mall until 10 years after a war’s end, which has frustrated activists and relatives of those lost to this war who say the waiting period is archaic and arbitrary.

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