Plan for Medal of Honor Monument in DC Gets Senate Boost

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U.S. Army first sergeant holds the Medal of Honor during an Enshrinement Ceremony at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C. (Getty Images)
U.S. Army first sergeant holds the Medal of Honor during an Enshrinement Ceremony at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C. (Getty Images)

If two senators get their way, Washington, D.C., will make way for another monument -- this time, to honor Medal of Honor recipients, according to bipartisan legislation introduced Aug. 5.

The National Medal of Honor Monument Act, introduced by Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Tim Kaine, D-Va., would authorize the National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation to build a monument in recognition of the more than 3,500 recipients who represent its values and performed acts of extraordinary valor in combat.

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"The United States is forever indebted to our courageous women and men in uniform. Thanks to their service, our nation has overcome monumental challenges," Kaine said in a statement. "Establishing a National Medal of Honor Monument will help allow all Americans to reflect on the sacrifices service members have made in defense of our freedom."

Federal funds will not be used to pay for the monument, according to the legislation. The foundation said it will be responsible for raising funds from private and public donations.

"The location and design of the D.C. monument are undetermined since the legislation that was just introduced only authorizes the National Medal of Honor Museum to begin planning," said Holly Jackson, a spokesperson for the museum. "We hope it will be a place to be inspired by the valor and values of the Medal of Honor. We also see it as a location for further Medal of Honor Day activities and potentially for Medal of Honor ceremonies."

Another project under the management of the foundation -- a National Medal of Honor Museum in Arlington, Texas -- is scheduled to open to the public in 2024 with permanent, interactive experiences, rotating exhibits and an education center, according to the foundation.

"It is past time to build a monument in recognition of the heroic patriotism and sacrifice of the Medal of Honor represents, and I look forward to seeing this bill pass both chambers of Congress," Rep. Ron Wright, R-Texas, a co-sponsor of the House version of the bill, said in a statement.

The foundation will raise funds for the monument and the museum simultaneously, according to Jackson. The initial estimate for the monument's design and construction is approximately $40 million.

"The design of Arlington museum has been selected; that will be revealed to the public in early October," she said. "Fundraising is very strong; the initial design and site surveys are being completed for pre-construction work to begin in mid-2021."

The museum's president expressed excitement for the proposed monument.

"I cannot think of a better way to bring Americans together than to build this monument in our nation's capital," said Joe Daniels, the museum president and CEO, in a statement. "Along with the National Medal of Honor Museum in Arlington, Texas, it will allow Americans from every corner of the country to pay homage to the Medal and the amazing courage and patriotism it stands for."

"The National Medal of Honor Monument is not just about the valor, it's about the values the Medal of Honor represents. We owe it to future generations of Americans to educate them on the extraordinary patriotism and service that have always protected our freedoms, so that they can be better citizens for it," Patrick Brady, a retired Army major general, Medal of Honor recipient and member of the National Medal of Honor Musem's board of directors, said in a statement. "That's why it's so important for Congress to pass the National Medal of Honor Monument Act."

-- Bing Xiao can be reached at bingxiao2020@u.northwestern.edu.

Related: This Is the Only Medal of Honor Recipient to Ever Give It Back

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