WASHINGTON - Memorial Day is the time we honor and pay tribute to the brave military men and women who have fallen. As United States armed forces approach their 17th year in the war in Afghanistan, a prior group of Desert Storm veterans say it is time to recognize their war as well.
The National Desert Storm Veteran’s War Memorial is being planned for an area near the Lincoln Memorial. However, veterans say they have a long way to go in terms of both funding and attention.
It has already been more than a quarter century since Desert Storm ended, which lasted from August 1990 until April 1991. Ret. Lt. Colonel Kyle Leggs, the chairman of the proposed memorial, said veterans do not want this conflict or their fallen heroes forgotten.
"We are going to capitalize on that,” he said. “It's over 600,000 veterans who served in the war. Obviously we are doing it to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice. We are here on Memorial Day to recognize those soldiers and that is what it is all about.”
The proposed design of this memorial is curved, which is meant to evoke the "left hook maneuver," a massive attack on Saddam Hussein's Iraqi forces on their left flank that helped put a quick end to the war.
Around 200 Desert Storm veterans marched in the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington. Nearly 650,000 veterans served in Desert Storm and 146 Americans died during Desert Storm.
However, building the memorial will not be cheap. The funds will need to be privately raised and it is estimated to cost $25 million. Bob Adams, the memorial’s vice president, said they are just beginning to get the word out and collect donations.
"We have the support of the American people of course,” Adams said. “We have the bill signed by President Trump and President Obama allowing us this land in D.C., but we have to raise all of the funds ourselves. We have a lot of a lot of support from [veterans service organizations] like American Legion, VFW, AMVETS and they have definitely stepped up in the last two years.
How long will this take? Assuming the final site selection goes forward and the fundraising effort can meet that $25 million goal, they believe they could break ground in 2020, and with the opening coming in 2021, which would be the 30th anniversary of the end of the war.