Two veterans are urging lawmakers to build a Global War on Terrorism Memorial on the National Mall.
“It’s very important to have a memorial just for those who have fought the war on terror,” Nadine Moreno, who served 22 years in the Navy Reserve, said. “With all the other eras, like World War II, Vietnam and such, you’re able to recognize the servicemen and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice. But post-9/11, we really don’t have anything to visit and remember all the sacrifices that have been made.”
Moreno and Army Reserve Sgt. Bridget Hagens became friends in August through the Wounded Warrior Project. Both deployed to Iraq after 9/11 and lost friends in the ensuing aftermath.
Those experiences, along with the passing of time, convinced Hagens and Moreno of the need for a memorial in Washington, D.C., specifically dedicated to the victims of the war on terrorism.
Bipartisan support for memorial
Hagens and Moreno were among 30 other veterans and Gold Star families who traveled to the nation’s capital earlier this month to motivate legislators to approve construction of a memorial for those who fought and/or were killed in combat since 2001.
The House of Representatives in September passed the National Defense Authorization Act for 2022, which included language OKing the construction of the memorial within the “Reserve” area of the National Mall, where new memorials are typically not allowed.
Now, the Senate is considering the NDAA — and the memorial’s supporters hope it keeps the same or similar language.
“To have a memorial would say, ‘Your country did not forget about you,’” said Hagens, a reservist for 16 years. “Freedom is not free. That’s why this memorial means a lot to me.”
They have supporters from several corners, including the Global War on Terror Memorial Foundation. Formed in 2015, the foundation pushes for the authorization of a national war memorial dedicated completely to those who have served in the war on terrorism. Former President George Bush serves as its honorary chairman.
Surrounding Hagens and Moreno in November were veterans and politicians from both political parties, along with the bill’s co-sponsors, Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Maggie Hassan (D-New Hampshire) and Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisconsin) and Jason Crow (D-Colorado). Ernst, Crow and Gallagher also are veterans of the war on terrorism.
“The more support we get, the better our chances of getting this approved,” Moreno said.
Hagens added, “Our politics in America may be partisan, but when you’re a soldier, you’re a soldier for life, and that’s the bottom line.”
Global War on Terrorism Memorial a place of peace
The memorial’s advocates have to wait for Congress to approve its requested National Mall location (or another site if the initial one gets rejected). Once a spot is chosen and authorized, the memorial foundation will hold a design contest.
Whatever shape the memorial eventually takes, Hagens and Moreno said they hope it is one of strength and shared sacrifice.
Hagens envisions a soldier carrying another.
“That represents the Global War on Terrorism for me: us carrying each other,” she said.
“No matter what it is, we’ve always got each other’s backs,” Moreno said.
The duo won’t stop until the memorial is built, they said. After all, they could have been another name ready to be added to its future walls.
“When I came back from deployment, I felt so guilty for the longest time,” Moreno said. “I owe it as a survivor to have this memorial placed, so that everybody can remember our brothers and sisters who did not come home.”
For sample letters to send to your representative or senator in support of the Global War on Terrorism Memorial, alongside other outreach materials, visit the memorial foundation website.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that an architect already had been selected to build the memorial. It has since been corrected.Read comments