Despite a setback, combat veteran U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst continues to push for a memorial on the National Mall to honor the men and women who have served in the nation’s longest war, the Global War on Terrorism.
Ernst, an Iowa Republican who commanded 150 troops during Operation Iraqi Freedom and is the first female combat veteran to serve in the U.S. Senate, asked for unanimous consent to proceed with building the memorial to honor the service members killed in combat there, including former Iowan Cpl. Daegan William-Tyeler Page, she said during Senate debate Monday.
“It is the least we in Congress can do for the men and women who have given so much,” she said.
However, West Virginia Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin objected, raising concern about building the memorial on the National Mall. Manchin, who chairs a committee overseeing national monuments, called for it be built in a “high profile” area, but not on the mall.
The memorial belongs on the mall near those honoring service members from World War II and the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, Ernst and Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire said in a news conference Tuesday. That’s been endorsed by six former secretaries of defense from Democratic and Republican administrations.
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Ernst’s attempt to get work started on the memorial follows introduction of a resolution with 1st District Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, to honor American military members who served in Afghanistan. And this week, Iowa U.S. House members Reps. Cindy Axne, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Randy Feenstra and Hinson offered a similar amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to honor those who served over the past 20 years.
Legislation authorizing the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation, a private foundation, to begin the process of pursuing the construction of a memorial on the National Mall without using federal funds was approved by Congress in 2017.