The Veterans of Foreign Wars on Thursday donated $100,000 towards the construction of a National Desert Storm War Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the group's first payment to help build the memorial.
"This funding comes at a crucial point in our mission," said Scott Stump, president and chief executive officer of the National Desert Storm War Memorial and a former Marine infantryman who served in the war. "We appreciate the VFW's help and for taking the lead in this important endeavor."
The VFW is the first major veterans' organization to financially back the memorial project, whose organizers are trying to raise $25 million of the anticipated $40 million costs.
Some 600,000 soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen took part in Desert Storm, Stump has said, making it the largest war of the 20th century that is not honored with a memorial in Washington.
VFW National Commander John A. Biedrzycki Jr. said the VFW is proud to support the project.
"Freeing Kuwait was an overwhelming victory that was a direct result of the superior training, equipment and dedication of America's service members," he said. "We owe them our gratitude, and this memorial will help ensure the memory of their commitment and sacrifice endures."
The 25th anniversary of Desert Shield, the building of the coalition and preparation for combat, is already here, Stump said, and the Jan. 15 anniversary of Desert Storm is "rapidly approaching."
The memorial organization wants a memorial completed by 2018 and refuses to consider it a long-term project. It says the VFW's contribution helps put the memorial's total budgetary goal and the 2018 construction completion date within reach. The memorial design, based on feedback from hundreds of Desert Shield and Storm veterans and their family members, features an elegantly curved, massive limestone wall that surrounds an inner memorial space, according to the group.
The memorial will also include information to educate visitors on the war, showcase the united multination coalition and memorialize the names of the more than 300 American men and women who died in the campaign.