Raising Funds For A Memorial To Veterans Of Recent Iraq And Afghanistan Wars

Andrew Brennan, a young former Army pilot, is learning that plans to build a monument to those who participated in what is referred to as the Global War on Terror is not so easy.

He and fellow veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars aspire to generate up to $35 million, with the objective of building a monument on the National Mall in Washington by the year 2024.

But first, they will have to contest federal law, which says a monument proposal will not be scrutinized until at least a decade following a war’s ending.

They might have a chance given the success of the 1982 Vietnam Wall memorial.  But barriers faced by veterans of previous wars, Korea, World War II and particularly Desert Storm, illustrates that getting a different war-themed national monument is daunting.

They do not want to wait that long, said Mike Stevens, a former Navy Master Chief Petty Officer. The Second World War monument was something of a tragedy. By the time that memorial was finished, many of those veterans had passed on. We have to learn from past mistakes.

The public debate that materialized after the Vietnam Wall was erected on the National Mall, with its black, granite wall carved with the names of over 58,000 Americans who were captured, missing in action or killed, almost never came to be.

Jan Scruggs, who led the three-year attempt to make the Vietnam Wall a reality,  questions whether the same could be done now, given social media can act as a pump injecting heat into any public conversation on the matter.

Supporters such as Brennan said the law preventing consideration until after a decade has passed should be modified. Cee Freeman, a Desert Storm veteran on the memorial’s board, said the delay is annoying, but then things do not just happen overnight in Washington. We are dealing with a national procedure.

Over two million service personnel are estimated to have been in combat since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks that prompted the incursion into Afghanistan and then Iraq, The Sandiego Union-Tribune reported. Although major ground combat had ended, U.S. troops remain in both countries.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE