President Joe Biden signed a bill Monday to build a monument in tribute to recipients of the Medal of Honor in Washington, D.C.
In a brief statement, the White House said Biden authorized the National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation in Arlington, Texas, "to establish a commemorative work to honor Medal of Honor recipients" and the values they represent somewhere in the District of Columbia. The specific site has yet to be determined.
In an interview last week, retired Navy Capt. Chris Cassidy, president of the National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation, said the authorization would not permit a Medal of Honor memorial site on the "Reserve" of the National Mall, now home to the World War II Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Korean War Veterans Memorial.
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Cassidy said he hoped for a site "in the vicinity of the Mall but not on the Reserve." A former Navy SEAL and astronaut, Cassidy projected a budget of about $60 million for the Medal of Honor memorial, which he said was "purely an estimate, but that's what our target is for fundraising."
Nearly 4,000 Americans have received the Medal of Honor since it was established during the Civil War, and currently there are 66 living recipients. The MOH is presented by the president and is awarded to service members who have distinguished themselves by acts of valor "above and beyond" the call of duty.
Biden separately signed the annual defense policy bill, which included approval for a Global War On Terrorism memorial to be built at a prime spot on the National Mall.
The GWOT memorial was included as part of the massive National Defense Authorization Act also signed by Biden on Monday while the MOH monument was in stand-alone legislation passed unanimously by the House and Senate.
In a press release, the GWOT Memorial Foundation said: "The Memorial will honor all who have served and sacrificed in the ongoing international military campaign launched by the U.S. government following the September 11th attacks in an effort to defeat terrorists intending to harm our country and its citizens."
The authorization for the estimated $40 million GWOT Memorial gave approval for a site that's part of the Reserve on the Mall.
Biden's authorizations for a GWOT Memorial and an MOH monument set off a lengthy and painstaking process involving several agencies, including the National Capital Planning Commission and the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, to gain approval for site selection and design for both projects.
Under terms of the authorizations, funding for the GWOT Memorial and the MOH monument will rely solely on private donations and will not involve any taxpayer money. The eventual designs for the two projects would come from an arts competition.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com
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