Today, War on Terror veterans Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) introduced bipartisan legislation to authorize a national memorial dedicated to those who have fought in the Global War on Terror (GWOT) following the September 11th terrorist attacks. This week marks the 15-year anniversary of the attack. Under current law, Congress would have to wait ten years after a war is over to create a memorial; however, we have been at war for 15 years with no end in sight. This bill would exempt the GWOT from this restriction and allow the GWOT Foundation to begin building a national memorial to honor the more than 4,500 American troops who fell in combat and the countless more who return home with physical, mental, and emotional scars.
“Modern warfare is asymmetrical and unconventional, which is partly why we have been at war for the longest period in our nation’s history fighting the War on Terror,” said Rep. Zinke, a retired Navy SEAL Commander and Commander of Joint Special Forces in Iraq (2004). “Our nation was plunged into war 15 years ago after the September 11th terrorist attacks, and yet we are unable to build a memorial because of government regulations that stipulate when and where a memorial can be built. That’s not right. It’s a disservice to the Warriors and to the families. I’m thankful to my 17 colleagues who joined me in introducing this legislation, especially fellow Iraq War veteran, Rep. Seth Moulton, and for the team at the War on Global Terror Memorial Foundation for helping create legislation to honor our warriors and provide loved ones with a place to reflect. As somebody who has been to too many funerals for fallen soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines, I can say without a doubt this memorial is greatly needed as part of the healing process.”
Keith Pigman, Sergeant U.S. Marine Corps – Served in Iraq and Afghanistan – Helena
“The freshman starting high school this year will learn about 9/11 as a historical event. In all our country’s wars and conflicts, memorials are built as a resting ground where family, service members and patriots can pay respects, group together and reflect on the events. As a Marine veteran of Fox Co. 2/3, my unit faced some of the most furious fighting in both theaters. In Afghanistan in 2005 during operation Red Wings, following operation Whalers, the first successful and highest Afghan voter turnout in history came at a cost to American lives.
“In 2015, my united reunited in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Operation Whalers. We noticed that among the many beautiful memorials, there is not one for our generation of warriors who fought in the GWOT. It would have been an amazing tribute to share with my unit. I directly support this bill for having a GWOT memorial, and hopefully our 20-year anniversary we will have our own memorial to reflect and pay respects.
“In 2006, I was deployed to the Haditha region in Iraq as the Security Force Commander tasked with clearing main supply routes in direct support of our mission. In the six months I was there, I discovered 13 improvised explosive devices (IEDs), countered the enemy in multiple engagements, and set up traffic control points to limit terrorist activity. The city after our deployment was now a safer community where kids can walk to school, play outside, and walk to the market without fear. In early October 2006 my truck was hit by an IED, the attack was well executed and took us by surprise. We quickly repelled the attack, but we could not aid the wounded fully and close with the enemy. Lance Corporal Derrick Jones took his last breath on the medivac as we loaded him into it. A few of us Marines get together to pay respects to Jones and his family regularly. It would be amazing if we had a memorial to share and remember our brother.”
Carmen Sheehy, Captain U.S. Marine Corps – Served in Afghanistan – Bozeman
“There’s an outdated and unjust law prohibiting the construction of a new war memorial. The fight to overturn this law doesn’t involve undoing centuries of social injustice or require a declaration of war like pieces of landmark legislation in our nation’s history. Instead, it requires compassion, honor, and humility. Because we owe it to them, let us honor our service men and women, young and old; black, white, Asian, Hispanic; Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Atheist; gay and straight; wealthy and impoverished; deceased and living; citizen and immigrant; Democrat, Republican and Independent, with a place of solemnity and solidarity on our nation’s front lawn. We owe their families and friends a place to grieve them. And we owe our grateful nation a place to remember them. They earned it.”
“Unlike past wars and conflicts, the Global War on Terror is one that had a marked beginning on 9/11, but has no definitive end. Therefore, it is important that we build a memorial on our National Mall in Washington, D.C. to commemorate the sacrifices made by those service members who did not come home from the battlefield, those who continue to serve in conflict zones, and their families. This includes members of our intelligence and diplomatic communities as well as our first responders on 9/11,” said Andrew Brennan, executive director of the Global War on Terror Memorial Foundation. “We are grateful to Congressman Zinke and Congressman Moulton for their leadership, support and commitment to enabling our organization to build a tangible symbol of our generation’s sacrifice. We look forward to the group healing, the ability to honor and remember, and the capacity to educate that this memorial will enable.”
The bill has the support of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and is sponsored by the following Members of Congress: Reps. Ryan Zinke (R-MT), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Mike Coffman (R-CO), Trent Franks (R-AZ), C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Tim Walz (D-MN), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Jeff Denham (R-CA), Dan Donovan (R-NY), Steve Russell (R-OK), David Rouzer (R-NC), Keith Rothfus (R-PA), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Bill Huizenga (R-MI), Bradley Byrne (R-AL), Ann Wagner (R-MO), Cresent Hardy (R-NV).