A new online petition posted Monday asks President Donald Trump to sign an executive order creating a War on Drugs Service Medal.
The petition would create a "total force" award to recognize active-duty, Reserve, Guard, auxiliary and state service members who fought in the "War on Drugs" any time from June 18, 1971, to the present. As of Thursday afternoon, only two people had signed the "We the People" petition.
Former President Barack Obama created Change.org-like petitions nearly 10 years to let Americans submit their ideas to the White House. If the petitioner collects at least 100,000 signatures in 30 days, the White House will give an official comment on it within 60 days.
Previous petitions over the last two years have included subjects like "Do Not Repeal Net Neutrality" and "Impeach Nancy Pelosi for crimes of Treason."
Thomas Marriott said that he started the petition in honor of his father, retired Army Lt. Col. Dr. John Marriott, who served as brigade surgeon, 2/504th Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, Task Force Pacific in Operation Just Cause.
Marriott said he is a member of 2nd Special Troops Battalion, 6th Brigade with the Texas State Guard, a state militia that is not subject to federal activation. He emphasized that he was acting on behalf of himself and not the organization.
More than 250,000 service members have served in the "War on Drugs" since President Richard Nixon declared that drug abuse was "public enemy number one" in 1971, according to Marriott, who describes himself as an entrepreneur and soldier from Austin, Texas. He estimated "America's second longest war" has cost more than $1 trillion and killed or wounded at least 5,000 Americans.
"The War on Drugs deserves more recognition," Marriott wrote in a statement. "It has killed more American civilians via overdose than the civilian casualties of the War on Terror, World War I, World War II, Cold War, Civil War, Indian War, and the Revolutionary War combined -- and counting."
In Marriott's vision, the proposed medal would be circular and slightly larger than 1.3 inches in diameter. The front, inspired by the Helmand Province Campaign against Taliban insurgents, would show Marines moving through a poppy field.
Marriott estimates more than 2,000 Americans have been killed or injured while fighting in the poppy-growing center of Helmand, Afghanistan.
"Defining one image that does it justice was nearly as monumental as the epoch itself. Our solution to the infinite complexity was absolute simplicity. No embellishment or sublimation. Just unadulterated reality," he wrote on his website warondrugsmedal.org.
The back of the medal would have the American eagle surrounded with 50 stars; the ribbon would be white, red and black, Marriott said. It represents the "fight between good and evil;" the red stripe would take up 6% of the total width, representing the current U.S. veteran population.
Marriott has until Feb. 12 to collect at least 100,000 signatures to prompt a White House response.
Other medals created by executive orders include Obama's Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal and President George Bush's Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to correct John Marriott's military job title.
-- Dorothy Mills-Gregg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @DMillsGregg.