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Americans Lack Basic Knowledge of Global War on Terrorism, New Research Shows

GWOTMF

Survey also finds nearly two-thirds of Americans support the construction of a memorial to veterans of the Global War on Terrorism on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

Contact: Stacey Finkel, media@gwotmf.org, 703-304-1377 

An Ipsos survey commissioned by the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation, the congressionally-designated non-profit tasked with planning, funding, and coordinating efforts to build the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., has found that Americans lack basic knowledge surrounding the GWOT effort.

The national survey revealed that only around one in three respondents (35%) could correctly identify the length of the Global War on Terrorism, which continues more than 20 years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Thirty-nine percent of respondents said they didn’t know how long the effort had been taking place, and 24% said it had been going on for 30 years.

Additionally, 42% of respondents – including 55% of those 18-24 years old – said they didn’t know anyone who had served in the Global War on Terrorism, likely depriving them of first-hand knowledge about the significance of GWOT veterans’ efforts. Among those who know someone who has served, a plurality (41%) correctly say the GWOT has gone on for 20 years. This is compared to just 27% of those who don’t know anyone who has served.

“This year’s Veterans Day celebrations are tempered by the sobering reality of a national knowledge gap about the Global War on Terrorism. Our nation needs a memorial on the National Mall to give the millions of Americans who visit Washington, D.C. every year – especially young Americans – the opportunity to learn about an essential piece of modern American history,” said Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation President and CEO Marina Jackman.

Jackman also pledged that the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation would continue to commission further public opinion research to gauge the public’s knowledge of and attitudes toward the Global War on Terrorism.

“The Foundation’s mission to raise awareness about our veterans’ heroic role in this conflict long predates the recent events in Afghanistan. The Global War on Terrorism is not over. This survey is just the first in a new series designed to educate the public about America’s longest conflict.”

The survey also found that 63% of Americans support the construction of a memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. dedicated to those who served, and continue to serve, in the worldwide fight against terrorism.

Jackman stated, “There is unambiguous national enthusiasm to pay tribute to those who have served in the Global War on Terrorism with a memorial. Our nation should honor them in the same way it has our patriots who fought in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War – with a memorial on the National Mall.”

“There is unambiguous national enthusiasm to pay tribute to those who have served in the Global War on Terrorism with a memorial. Our nation should honor them in the same way it has our patriots who fought in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War – with a memorial on the National Mall.”

Marina Jackman, President/CEO of GWOTMF

The poll was conducted between August 13-15, 2021 using Ipsos’ probability-based KnowledgePanel®. For this study, a sample of 1,019 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points for all respondents.

Background: In 2017, the President signed into law legislation authorizing the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation to establish, with private funds, a National Memorial on federal land in the District of Columbia to commemorate and honor the men and women who have served in support of the Global War on Terrorism. The Global War on Terrorism Memorial Location Act represents the next step in an extensive legislative process required for a national monument. To learn more, visit www.gwotmemorialfoundation.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.