For the first time in U.S. history, an American war has lasted long enough to see a child born at the start of hostilities reach fighting age. Our military personnel have been in Afghanistan — first with Operation Enduring Freedom, launched less than a month after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and now with Operation Freedom’s Sentinel — for more than 18 years.
Still, the nearly three million U.S. service members who have deployed in support of the global war on terrorism since 9/11 — whether they served in the villages, cities and battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, or more recently northern Syria and Somalia — do not have a national memorial to call their own.
As we’ve written in the past, this should be rectified as soon as possible. Our nation’s capital needs a Global War on Terrorism Memorial not only so that we, as citizens, have a place to honor and remember the close to 8,500 men and women in uniform who have died in overseas deployments since 9/11, but also to honor the more than 50,000 wounded in action and the estimated 20% of all returning service members who suffer from the invisible wounds of war such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.
Last week, thanks to the commitment, perseverance, and hard work of the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation, those who have sacrificed the most in defense of our nation since that terrible September morning may have a suitable memorial on our National Mall in Washington, D.C. On Nov. 12, Reps. Jason Crow, D-Colo., and Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., both veterans of our post 9/11 wars, introduced legislation in the House proposing three possible locations near the Korean, Vietnam and World War II memorials.
As Gallagher, a veteran of the Iraq War, told Task & Purpose last week, no matter which location is finalized, the National Mall is a “fitting” place because it “honors some of the greatest individuals in our country’s history, from George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, to those who served in the wars of the 20th century.”
When asked why a memorial is needed now, while the war on terrorism continues in Afghanistan, Syria and elsewhere, Gallagher replied, “The global war on terrorism is now old enough to vote, and unfortunately, terrorism does not appear to be going anywhere soon.
Without action, generations of warriors may never see their service, or the service their fallen brothers and sisters, memorialized in our nation’s capital. We must ensure those who served, and those who continue to serve, in the worldwide fight against terrorism are rightfully honored.”
We couldn’t agree more, and encourage our elected officials in Washington to back Gallagher and Crow’s bipartisan bill and designate an official location for the Global War on Terrorism Memorial.