WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBS4) – Millions of veterans of the global war on terrorism could soon have their own memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Colorado Rep. Jason Crow is leading the effort. He introduced a bill designating three possible locations for the memorial on the National Mall.
The effort to build the memorial began five years ago. At the time, a federal law prohibited new national memorials until 10 years after a conflict ended. But the war on terrorism, now in its 18th year, seems never-ending, so Congress changed the law.
Rep. Crow organized a run at sunrise in D.C. to build support for his bill. Veterans and families of the war on terrorism joined Democrats and Republicans in Congress to run on the National Mall, past sacred memorials with a solemn mission.
“We have to make sure we are recognizing the sacrifices of men and women who took an oath, raised their right hand, put aside their self-interest to serve their country,” said Crow.
Crow is among the millions who served in America’s longest war. A former Army Ranger, Crow fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said a Gold Star husband whose wife died in Syria in January flew in from Oregon with his two and four-year-old kids for the run.
The global war on terrorism has killed nearly 7,000 Americans.
“We wanted to provide an opportunity for the post 9/11 veterans… to bring their children, to reunite with their brothers and sisters who they fought with and to reflect on the sacrifices of their friends who didn’t come home,” said Rep. Crow.
“Any marker that’s going to cause the country to reflect on the costs of conflict and war and the sacrifices that the best among us have made is important to me,” said David Ortiz, a post-9/11 veteran.
An Army pilot, Ortiz knows the cost of war firsthand. He was paralyzed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.
“There were three Kiowas that went down in our squadron and we were the crew that survived out of the three,” Ortiz recalled.
The argument could be made that we shouldn’t need a memorial to remind us of the service and sacrifice of veterans like Ortiz, but he says it is also about healing and uniting a divided country.
“I think it’s human nature to need tangible reminders,” said Ortiz. “Pictures of our family members, on the walls, mementos of service.”
Crow’s co-sponsor is a Republican congressman from Wisconsin who served in the Marines and, he says, the bill has wide bi-partisan support, “I really believe this is something we can come together around – Republicans and Democrats – find common cause and get this done for the American people and get this done for the millions of veterans.”
Congress will choose from three locations listed in the bill, but the non-profit Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation is raising the money for the memorial.