Article by Rachael Riley | Link to Full Article
Service members, veterans, family members and civilians have until Tuesday to have a say in the design process for a new memorial that will be displayed on the National Mall.
The Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation, which was started by veterans in 2015 to ensure a monument would commemorate the nation’s longest war, spearheaded the project that required acts of Congress for site approval and approval to be worked on before the typical 10-year wait required after a war ends.
Fort Liberty-area veteran Michael “Rod” Rodriguez, president and CEO of the foundation, is one of the veterans who’s helped see the memorial come to fruition.
In an announcement last month, Rodriguez said the foundation’s “Help Design History” campaign gives a voice to anyone impacted by the multi-generational Global War on Terror.
“No other national war memorial in history has been built on insight from American citizens,” Rodriguez said. “We firmly believe that this approach will reflect a diversity of experiences, services, and sacrifices, thereby telling the story of the countless Americans who stepped forward to serve us all.”
The 22-day campaign started Sept. 26 to represent the 22 years of America’s ongoing fight against terrorism and coincided with the Sept. 26, 2001, anniversary of when the first American forces entered Afghanistan for CIA Operation Jawbreaker.
Gold Star Involvement
Jennifer Ballou came on board with the foundation as a Gold Star fellow in March and is helping spread the word about the Foundation’s “helping design history” public input campaign.
Ballou’s husband, Staff Sgt. Edwardo Loredo, was killed June 24, 2010, by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan.
Loredo, 34, of Houston, was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne.
The Loredo Child Development Center on Fort Liberty is named after him.
Ballou is also a Global War on Terrorism veteran who served more than 20 years in the Army, including with the 257th Dental Company, 44th Medical Brigade at then-Fort Bragg, until May 2015.
She’s since remarried to retired Command Sgt. Maj. Omari Ballou, who’s also been impacted by the war.
“I can see this through quite a few different lenses, and it’s really honestly almost hard to put into words how amazing I think this is going to be, not only for me, but for so many others that it’s going to be built and we’re going to be able to go there in our lifetime,” Ballou said via a Zoom call Wednesday.
Ballou said prior national war memorials weren’t built until many years after their conflicts were over.
Although Fayetteville, Arkansas-based Marlon Blackwell Architects is the lead designer for the project, Ballou said they are not allowed to start designing the project until after the public input campaign.
Before plans are finalized, the architects will also hear from the foundation’s design advisory council, which is 22 people and includes Gold Star family members, active duty service members, veterans and family members, Ballou said.
“One of our biggest goals is to ensure that this memorial is not only a reverent place to visit but also that it’s very inclusive. And so one of the things that we know is that it is important to honor everybody who has served and sacrificed over the last 22 years,” she said.
That means it will honor those killed in action, those who died as a result of the war in cases like suicide or cancer, those who are still serving, veterans, military families and more, Ballou said.
Ballou said though there may be differences of opinions, the memorial’s design will be based on four tenets, which are honor, heal, empower and unite.
“To empower is really about engaging and educating both the military and the civilian communities to build the mutual understanding of what the Global War on Terrorism is and how it’s affected our nation and then to unite or to foster and sustain the sense of patriotism that brought all Americans together in the wake of 9/11,” she said.
Ballou said once the public input campaign is complete, the design team will meet with the design advisory council to start planning the design.
“Hopefully, sometime next year we’ll have a tentative design that will have to get approved by many different organizations,” she said.
Simultaneously, the foundation is working to raise $110 million in private funds for the memorial, which is not government-funded, officials said.
The plan is for the memorial to be completed and dedicated by 2027.
Those who want to provide input for the design campaign can visit gwotmemorialfoundation.org/helpdesignhistory.