KUWAIT CITY, June 23, (Agencies): The US Commission on Fine Arts has approved a space in the National Mall for the construction of the National Desert Storm and Desert Shield War Memorial.
The Starts and Stripes published a report on Friday, stating that the approval came after months-long debate on the selection of an area along the Potomac River for the memorial. According to the report, those who advocated for allotting a spot in the National Mall for the memorial expressed happiness over the decision; especially since the site selection process went on for three years.
The report revealed that Representative Phil Roe (R-Tennessee), Senator Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana), and Spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars Joe Davis appealed to members of the commission to select the National Mall site. During the meeting, four members of the commission voted in favor of the site, one voted against and one abstained.
This is different from the decision taken in March, when the commission chose Belvedere — part of the land along Potomac River — as location of the memorial. It has been reported that the commission had no option but to rethink its previous decision because the National Capital Planning Commission, which is also in charge of choosing the memorial location, has opted for the 23rd and Constitution site.
The report then pointed out that the federal statute obligates the two commissions and National Park Service to agree on a location. It can be recalled that US President Donald Trump signed a resolution in March on the establishment of the memorial in Washington. The National Desert Storm War Memorial Association, which is in charge of the planning and construction of the memorial, voiced objection to the Belvedere site; arguing that it is difficult to access from other war memorials.
The association is led by a Honorary Board Chairman, Former president George H.W. Bush, and a Board of Directors comprised of Desert Storm Veterans from most branches of the military. The association handles all aspects of the memorial, such as fundraising, design and construction at an estimated total cost of $25 million and the target completion is in 2021. In a related development, the association announced on its website — www.ndswm.org — the approved location of the memorial as 23rd Street NW and Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20037 USA.
The association considers this the most appropriate location for the memorial to achieve its objectives — to commemorate those who served, honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and educate current and future global citizens about the importance of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
The association has also started calling for donations, pointing out that “although the land is provided by the government, no tax dollars or government money will be used for construction. So, all money must be raised through private donations from citizens, companies and others.”
The association explained on its website that the memorial aims to create an educational, meaningful and deeply moving sequential experience for visitors that:
1. Educates them about the historical events of the Desert Storm War
2. Identifies each of the coalition countries and illustrates the historical significance of the 34-nation coalition that united to liberate Kuwait
3. Memorializes all the names of Americans who sacrificed their lives in the war
4. Reflects the unique environmental and battle conditions experienced by servicemen and women in this war
5. Leaves visitors with an enduring memory of the historical significance and accomplishments of the Desert Storm War
The association disclosed the design of the memorial “is the result of a 20-month collaborative effort between the National Desert Storm War Memorial Board of Directors, numerous veterans of the war, CSO Architects, Inc., Context Landscape Architecture, and other citizen contributors who were affected by the war.” The association went on to say, “The memorial has been designed as an elegantly curved, massive, Kuwaiti limestone wall, which both encloses and envelopes a sacred, somber, inner memorial space.”
It then enumerated the functional and symbolic purposes of the curved wall as follows: shields visitors and the ‘memorial experience’ both visually and acoustically from the noisy, urban surroundings of downtown Washington, DC; the massive earth-toned limestone wall and floor of the memorial recall in form and color the sands of the Kuwaiti desert; and the curved wall, which sweeps an arc in the north and east directions, recalls the ‘left hook’ maneuver that helped to bring the war to a timely conclusion and to minimize the loss of life in Coalition Forces.
Once inside the memorial, visitors will follow a 150-foot continuous basrelief, which is carved into the interior surface of the wall. It displays the flags and the fallen from each of the 34 nations in the coalition, the Desert Storm Campaign Ribbons, and the continuous historical chronology of the war’s events.
The carving describes in pictographic, sculptural form all of the main historical events leading up to and including the war, as well as the lasting after-effects of the war on veterans, the association revealed. Moreover, the names of the 383 US servicemen and women, who sacrificed their lives in the conflict, will be engraved in one part of the Memorial wall under the heading, ‘Here We Mark the Price of Freedom.’ This is in addition to the bronze statues of five US servicemen and women wearing gas masks and chemical warfare protective gear, the association added.