“Everyone knows about the global war on terror, and in some way or another every American has been impacted by it, and it goes to the level of significance” of why it should be on the Mall, Ernst told CNN, where the greatest number of people can come visit, reflect and say thank you.
“This is America’s longest war, the notion that a memorial to it wouldn’t be on the National Mall is just mind boggling,” said Sen. Maggie Hassan, Democrat from New Hampshire and co-sponsor of a bill with Ernst that proposes three locations for the memorial on the Mall. Hassan, who sits on the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, argued that the Mall needs this memorial in order to fully “reflect our history” and “our story.”
The three spots proposed in the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Location Act include areas that “would be available on the National Mall,” Ernst said, which includes Constitution Gardens close to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, JFK Hockey Fields which is south of the Reflecting Pool and West Potomac Park, according to the bill.
Lyn Schultes Franco, a spokesperson for the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation, says a national competition is possible but has not been confirmed yet as the design process.
The Global War on Terror Memorial Act was signed into law in 2017 by then-President Donald Trump. The bill authorized the creation of the memorial on federal land in Washington, which is to be privately funded, but did not specifically designate where and when it would be built.
On Monday, Ernst took to the Senate floor and asked for unanimous consent to pass her bill, but Sen. Joe Manchin objected. The West Virginia Democrat, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that oversees National Parks, monuments and memorials, said he is a strong supporter of the memorial. But he argued that constructing it on the Mall would “reopen the fight” to place other significant memorials there too, and suggested it should be built in compliance with the law, meaning someplace else.
“There have been several proposals to waive the prohibition of new memorials or museums in that area on the Mall including World War I memorial and the Desert Storm and Desert Shield Memorial,” said Manchin, who backed the original bill to create the memorial with Ernst. “Ultimately, these were located in other high profile areas in compliance with the Commemorative Works Act. I believe this precedent would reopen the fight to locate other memorials on the National Mall and create more controversy that would ultimately delay the construction of this memorial, which is much needed.”
Maine Sen. Angus King, an independent and chairman of the subcommittee on National Parks that held a hearing on the memorial location bill over the summer, told CNN he believes it will eventually end up on the Mall, but they need to “work with the National Park Service and find the right space.”
“It could be included in the House version and we’ll see where that goes,” she said, suggesting it might end up in the defense bill when the Senate passes it.
This story has been updated with additional developments Wednesday.