WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Global War on Terror (GWOT) Memorial Foundation, the congressionally-designated non-profit foundation tasked with organizing, fundraising and coordinating efforts to build a new memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., today shared three conversation starters to help Americans make Memorial Day occasions even more meaningful this holiday weekend.
“Memorial Day gives us a unique opportunity to come together as a nation to commemorate and honor service members who gave the ultimate sacrifice, while embracing our shared freedoms and liberties with friends and loved ones,” said Michael “Rod” Rodriguez, director, GWOT Memorial Foundation.
“As we move further down the path toward creating a memorial to honor all those that support our nation’s longest war, our next priorities as a foundation are to educate, encourage dialogue and listen to the voices of our country to ensure the GWOT memorial reflects the American people.”
These three conversation starters are designed to foster communication and shared understanding as the nation prepares for Memorial Day weekend:
1. Remember, Memorial Day is about remembrance.
Memorial Day originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. The holiday has since evolved to include light-hearted celebrations that brings families and friends together for cookouts and other gatherings. From placing American flags on grave sites of fallen service members or attending a remembrance ceremony, to simply sharing memories about family members that have served, there are numerous ways to pay tribute to our nation’s finest on Memorial Day.
2. Now in its 16th year, the Global War on Terror is our nation’s longest war.
While nearly 3 million Americans have deployed in support of the GWOT, only 1 percent of America’s population serves in the military today. That speaks to the strength, efficiency and resiliency of the people who wear the uniform, but it also means that many Americans don’t know someone who has served or is serving in the GWOT. According to the George W. Bush Presidential Center, 71 percent of Americans say they have little understanding of the issues facing post-9/11 veterans, and 84 percent of veterans say the public has little awareness of the issues facing them and their families. There is opportunity this Memorial Day and beyond to unravel misconceptions and misunderstandings through education about the unique challenges facing service members, veterans and their families.
3. The U.S. needs a GWOT memorial.
This year, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is hosting its annual Memorial Day Ceremony at The Wall, while the WWII Memorial plans for its own Memorial Day Observance. Memorials are tangible symbols of the sacrifices made by veterans and their families. Close to 7,000 service members have lost their lives in the GWOT to-date, and the conflict is ongoing. Unlike other wars, GWOT military members, veterans, their families and the American people don’t have a central place of healing to gather and honor lives lost and enhance their understanding of the ever-evolving conflict.
Following Congress’ approval of the Global War on Terrorism War Memorial Act in August, the GWOT Memorial Foundation is advocating for land on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to serve as the location for a GWOT Memorial.
“It is vital we have a nationally recognized memorial within the lifetime of the Global War on Terror’s first generation of veterans,” said Rodriguez. “By building the memorial on America’s front yard, we will pay proper tribute to these service members. We will also create a central place of healing and education for all those impacted by this ever-evolving conflict, including current and future generations of veterans, their families and the American people.”
This summer, GWOT Memorial Foundation will formally request public input on the future memorial’s themes and design to ensure it reflects the American people as a nation. Follow #GWOTMemorial for opportunities to share your perspective and to track the memorial’s progress.
For more information about the GWOT Memorial Foundation, to make a donation or to learn about sponsorship opportunities, visit GWOTMF.org. Follow the foundation on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.
About Global War on Terror Memorial Foundation (GWOTMF): Congressionally-designated nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide the organizing, fundraising, and coordinating efforts to build a memorial on the National Mall in Washington D.C. to honor our fallen warriors, United States services members, their families, and all those who support our nation’s longest war. Through its dedicated efforts, the Foundation seeks to build a tangible symbol of the sacrifices made by our country’s service members and their families.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly 3 million Americans have deployed in support of the Global War on Terror Of those service members, close to 7,000 have been killed, with 52,000 wounded in action and an estimated 20 percent of veterans returning home grappling with the invisible wounds of war such as post-traumatic stress (PTS) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). The Global War on Terror Memorial Foundation believes that our service members and their families deserve a fitting memorial where our country can reflect and honor their strength, endurance and sacrifice. To learn more, visit GWOTMF.org or follow the foundation on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.