Congress Approves War Memorial For A War That Is Still Dragging On
On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives agreed, through a voice vote that enabled individual members of Congress to avoid going on the record about how they voted, to pass H.R. 873, a bill approving the creation of a new national war memorial in Washington D.C. This new war memorial would be in memory of what Congress decided to call “the Global War on Terrorism”.
There’s one big problem with establishing a National Global War on Terrorism Memorial: The Global War on Terrorism is still being fought.
U.S. Representative Tom McClintock, who stood to speak in favor of the memorial, had to admit that, “The global war on terrorism is the longest conflict ever fought by the United States, and there is still no end in sight.”
It’s been 16 years now that the Global War on Terrorism has been going, and it doesn’t appear to be any closer to ending than it was way back in 2001. The Taliban is still fighting against the United States, and the war has created more new enemies than it has defeated.
A law called the Commemorative Works Act states that no war memorial can be built until at least 10 years after the end of the war. The intention of the Commemorative Works Act is to ensure that there is time for reflection on the impact of a war before construction begins, so that a war memorial can provide a historical perspective that’s bigger than what can be summoned in the heat of the moment. H.R. 873 creates a special exemption to the Commemorative Works Act, to allow for the construction of the National Global War on Terrorism Memorial to begin now, while the war is still going.
We’re in the middle of the longest war in America’s history, and the fact that there is, as Congressman McClintock said, “no end in sight” is reflective of the general lack of vision that has characterized the Global War on Terrorism.
Tom McClintock and his colleagues could have recognized the wisdom of the Commemorative Works Act, and agreed to wait until a decade after the Global War on Terrorism is over to build a memorial. Instead, McClintock worried that, if Americans wait that long, many people alive today may not be able to see the National Global War on Terrorism Memorial.
Pause for a minute to consider what that means. Speaking in favor of H.R. 873, Congressman Seth Moulton said, “Passage of this bill is an important first step in seeing this memorial built in our lifetime.”
Seth Moulton was born in 1978. He can reasonably be expected to live until about the year 2060.
If the Commemorative Works Act was obeyed by Congress, and the National Global War on Terrorism Memorial wasn’t built until 10 years after the end of the Global War on Terrorism, then Moulton would be able to see the memorial built in his lifetime without any problem even if the Global War on Terrorism ended in the year 2040 – even if the memorial took an entire decade to build.
When Congressman Seth Moulton says that the National Global War on Terrorism Memorial couldn’t be built within his lifetime without the passage of H.R. 873, he’s saying that he expects the United States to keep on fighting the Global War on Terrorism for at least another 20 years.
A memorial for a war like this, fought with no end in sight, can have only one appropriate design: A gigantic hole in the ground so deep that no one can see the bottom of it, big enough to contain the entire wealth of the nation.