It had always bothered me that we had a national Vietnam memorial and not a national World War II memorial. Much the same way it bothers me that more research money is spent to find a cure for AIDS than cancer.
Vietnam and AIDS are both horrible things but it is hard to argue that the former was worse than WWII and the later is both easily preventable and kills far fewer people than cancer. Both of these examples seemed to lack a sense of proportion.
16 Million Americans served in WWII. Almost half a million died. They deserved a national memorial.
But there is another side to the story most people don’t know and it stands as a testament to the power of both Democracy and a good idea. Back in 1986 a WWII Veteran was at a fish-fry with his local Congressman and he asked her why there was no WWII memorial. Though Roger Durbin did not live to see it, he started the gears in motion that 17 years later lead to yesterday’s opening.
Along the way, Rep. Marcy Kaptur, who took the question, and many famous people helped push the idea along.
Bob Dole and Federal Express CEO Fred Smith lead the fund raising organization. Steven Spielberg, the director of`Saving Private Ryan’ and Tom Hanks the movie’s star loaned a public face to the fundraising and brought in millions of dollars.
Less than a 25% of our WWII veterans are still alive and we lose over 1,000 a day. It was high time he honored their service, commitment and sacrifice.