The National Desert Storm Memorial Association is currently $32 million short of its $40 million fundraising goal for a planned 2021 dedication ceremony on the National Mall, association president and CEO Scott Stump said Tuesday.
The largest single contribution thus far of $500,000 has come from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the association has "about $32 million to go" to reach the $40 million goal, Stump said as he gave an update on the memorial's progress at a National Press Club event.
Failure to reach the $40 million goal is "not an option. We'll get the money," said Stump, who served as a Marine lance corporal with 3rd Battalion, 24th Marines in the 1991 campaign that drove the Iraqi army from Kuwait.
Stump said he was encouraged by recent contacts he has had with corporations and foundations on meeting the fundraising goal to allow for a planned dedication ceremony in 2021, which would be the 30th anniversary of the Desert Shield/Desert Storm operation.
The association's plan was to raise another $22 million and also get concept approval for the design of the memorial on a site off Constitution Ave. and across 23rd St. NW from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial by the end of this year.
The tentative design would be semi-circular to recall the "left hook" by U.S. ground forces through the Saudi desert to cut off Iraqi troops in Desert Storm. It is planned to include the names of the fallen and the 34 countries that joined the U.S. coalition against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, according to the association's website.
Another $10 million is projected to be raised for a potential groundbreaking and start of construction in 2020, according to a release from the association.
Without the memorial, the risk would be that Desert Storm would become not a "forgotten war" but a "forgotten victory," Stump said.
At the National Press Club event, former officials in the administration of President George H.W. Bush and veterans of the campaign gave "insights on Desert Storm" that began with a massive 39-day air assault followed by the "100-hour" ground push that liberated Kuwait.
Former White House Press Secretary Marlin Fitzwater recalled being with President George H.W. Bush when he made the phone call to then-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
"This will not stand," he promised, in reference to Saddam's invasion of Kuwait.
Joe Davis, an Air Force veteran of Desert Storm and now chief spokesman for the VFW, said he was glad the proposed site for the Memorial was "as close as we could get to the Vietnam wall."
He said the parades that welcomed home the troops from Desert Storm were also a reflection of the nation's restored sense of gratitude for military service -- a gratitude that many Vietnam veterans never experienced.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.