Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) today introduced legislation in the U.S. Senate that would allow the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation (GWOT Memorial Foundation) to establish a national Global War on Terrorism Memorial within the Reserve section of the National Mall.
The Global War on Terrorism Memorial Location Act outlines three potential locations for the Memorial, including Constitution Gardens, West Potomac Park, and the JFK Hockey Fields.
“The Global War on Terror has impacted the lives of millions of Americans across our nation,” said Senator Ernst, who commanded troops during Operation Iraqi Freedom. “While nothing will ever restore the lives we have lost, this memorial will serve as a tribute to the brave men and women, and their loved ones, who have sacrificed in defense of our freedom. This bipartisan effort brings us one step closer to establishing a memorial to honor these heroes for generations to come.”
“The Global War on Terrorism Memorial will honor the tremendous sacrifice made by service members, civilians, and their family members in service to our country,” said Senator Hassan. “This bipartisan legislation would ensure that this memorial stands on the National Mall where countless visitors come every year to pay their respects and remember our country’s history. I am proud to join Senator Ernst in helping to honor the thousands of Americans – including more than 75 Granite Staters – who have lost their lives in this ongoing conflict.”
In 2017, the President signed into law legislation authorizing the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation to establish, with private funds, a National Global War on Terrorism Memorial on federal land in the District of Columbia in order to commemorate and honor the men and women who have served in support of the Global War on Terrorism. The legislation introduced today by Senators Ernst and Hassan represents the next step in an extensive legislative process required for the establishment of that national monument.
Fewer Americans (just 0.6%) are serving in uniform than at any other time in our nation’s history, yet their service and sacrifice is equal to that of previous generations. More than 7,000 service members have died in the Global War on Terrorism and nearly 53,000 have been wounded. Meanwhile, an estimated 3,413 civilian government contractors have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, and 38,953 have sustained work-related injuries. According to hundreds of veterans, active duty service members, Gold Star Families, Blue Star Families, elected officials, civilians, and faith leaders surveyed, it’s only by locating this Memorial near the World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War memorials that we can show the generations of Americans who have served, and will serve, in the Global War on Terrorism that their service is equally valued by our country.
“The men and women who have served and are still serving in the Global War on Terrorism belong to one of the most diverse, agile, and fiercely determined fighting forces in our nation’s history. In the nearly two decades since the beginning of this conflict, millions of servicemen and women and civilians have dedicated their time, their resources, and sometimes their lives to this mission,” said Army veteran and GWOT Memorial Foundation CEO & President Marina Jackman. “I’m grateful to Senators Ernst and Hassan for their leadership in making sure that those sacrifices are fully acknowledged and that all who have served are honored in our nation’s capital.”
Since the GWOT Memorial Foundation’s founding in 2015, active duty service members, veterans, military spouses, and families of the fallen have been crucial in helping the organization advance its mission. Stephanie Ouellette, Gold Star Sister of Marine Cpl. Michael W. Ouellette who was killed in an IED blast while serving in Afghanistan in 2009, has been especially instrumental in advocating for a Global War on Terrorism Memorial location on the National Mall alongside memorials to every other major armed conflict in United States history.
“The effort to build a Global War on Terrorism Memorial on the National Mall is a personal one — not just to me, but to every active duty service member, veteran, surviving family member, and civilian who has worked so hard to make this happen,” said Ouellette. “As we observe the 19th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, we are facing unprecedented political division. Now more than ever before, it’s important to recognize the selfless actions of millions of active duty service members, veterans, federal agents, contractors, first responders, and others who have chosen to be part of something bigger than politics and bigger than themselves. We have the opportunity — as a nation — to unite around a common cause: the simple act of honoring the sacrifices of all who have served through a national Global War on Terrorism Memorial. I’m grateful to Senators Ernst and Hassan for recognizing the significance of the National Mall in our collective history and the need to build this Memorial now (and not wait decades to honor those still serving today).”
Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Jason Crow (D-CO) and Mike Gallagher (R-WI).