Plans To Memorialize a War Without End, by Lucy Steigerwald and Jerrod Later

There are plans to erect a Global War on Terror Memorial on the Washington Mall. From day one this war was a bad idea. There must be some other way to memorialize the Americans who have died in it…and who will die in the future in this unending war. From Lucy Steigerwald and Jerrod Laber at

On August 8, The New York Times Magazine‘s C.J. Chivers published a lengthy pre-mortem of the failures of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, noting how“Aside from displacing tyrants and leading to the eventual killing of Osama bin Laden, none of this turned out as pitched. Prominent successes were short-lived.” This faint praise of the War on Terror comes as the Afghanistan War approaches its 17th birthday.

In June, it was announced that a monument for soldiers who fought in the first Gulf War was approved for construction on the National Mall near the Lincoln Memorial, by the US Commission of Fine Arts. Elizabeth K. Meyer, a professor at the University of Virginia and member of the commission, expressed concern over “the proliferation of war memorials on the National Mall,” according to the Washington Post. “The Mall is a public space that symbolizes our collective national identity, and we’re more than wars. We’re more than commemorating the dead…”

Her worry is due to plans for four other war memorials on or around the Mall in the near future: dedications to World War I, Native American Veterans, African-American Veterans in the Revolution, and the most off-putting, yet inevitable of all, a Global War on Terror Memorial, scheduled for construction in 2024.

A Global War on Terror Memorial is objectionable for many reasons, but the most obvious is that the war is not over – and in fact, by the letter of the law, can never be over. Given the war’s unending nature, a War on Terror Memorial prematurely closes the debate and will prevent a full reckoning of whether or not it has been worth it – and the evidence suggests it hasn’t. No one will want to point to the memorial and say this war is unjust and unwise, for fear of disrespecting those still fighting it.

To continue reading: Plans To Memorialize a War Without End

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