Opinion: There should be a memorial for veterans of the War on Terror
This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.
I read an op ed in USA Today this morning written by Jennie Taylor, widow of Army Major and former Mayor of North Ogden Brent Taylor. I so loved what she had to say that I want to add my voice to hers.
She argued that the bravery shown by American service members fighting for freedom during America’s longest global war on terrorism “deserve a place of healing on the National Mall commensurate with their heroism.” I did not know until I read Jennie’s words that there is legislation pending right now before Congress that would authorize construction of just such a memorial. It’s called the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Location Act. I hope that Utah’s Congressional delegation is of one voice in support of this legislation.
The impact of a war memorial
The time I have spent on the National Mall has been limited. I’ve only been there on two occasions, once in my childhood long before many of the monuments that are there now were built, and once six years ago when I took my dear Papa on the Honor Flight. We traveled that year with 75 other World War II veterans to Washington, D.C. to see the memorial constructed in their honor. I can’t do justice with words to the way we felt that day. Sons and daughters and volunteers, all pushing heroes in wheelchairs, stopping at the column with the name of the state they were from at the top. My father asked me to take him to Pennsylvania, where he lived most of his life, and also to Maine, where he lived when he enlisted.
We strolled down the Mall to the Vietnam Memorial. As we did, every person who passed us, to a person, thanked my father for his service. He was wearing a cap, as many of the veterans were, that said WWII veteran. My father became overcome with emotion at the outpouring of affection for him. He told me he didn’t feel worthy. I hugged him and reassured him he was.
Vietnam War Memorial offers a roadmap for remembrance
At the Vietnam Memorial, we learned that there is a person whose job it is to collect all of the mementos that are left behind at the memorial. People write notes and try to stick them in a crevice. They leave full beer cans and tell someone standing nearby that they never got to have that beer with their brother. People leave flowers and books and pictures. All of those items become catalogued and kept as part of the history of the Vietnam War. That touched both my father and I, and made the ground feel even more sacred.
I remember that as I contemplate how very worthy the soldiers and Marines and all members of the United States military who have been fighting in America’s longest war are of having a memorial erected there in their honor. They deserve a place where family and friends can leave a love note or a rose, a place where they can say a prayer or hold up paper to scratch the outline of a name. This is part of the way we heal from loss in America.
Thank you for your words, Jennie. More importantly, thank you and your family for the great sacrifice of your husband’s service.