Veterans Benefits Committee Update January/February 2019

BY TOM BURKE, CHAIR

The National Veterans Memorial and Museum was dedicated in Columbus, Ohio, on October 27. Such a building has to be approved by Congress in order for the memorial and museum to be designated as a “National Memorial.” I believe in time it will become a National Treasure. This is the first National Memorial to be designated outside of Washington, D.C. It was the brainchild of Ohio native John Glenn, statesmen, astronaut, gentlemen. The dream began in 2012 when the first meetings took place to build a grand veterans memorial for the state. But the idea expanded to all veterans across the nation to become a national designation.

Many dignitaries were present at the dedication, including David Glenn, John’s son; Ohio U.S. Sens. Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown, Reps. Joyce Beatty and Steve Strivers, VA Secy. Robert Wilkie, and major contributors Leslie H. and Abigail Wexner. Gen. Colin Powell was the keynote speaker. Lt. Gen. Michael Ferrier is the president and CEO of the memorial and museum.

The museum will present the stories of ordinary veterans who accomplished extraordinary things. Sens. Brown and Portman sponsored legislation in the Senate; Reps. Strivers and Pat Tiberi set the course in the House. Sen. Brown noted that today America is a divided nation. But when people hear the word “veteran,” most unite in a common cause to bring about change for good.

Gen. Powell said the memorial and museum will become a hallowed place. It will be a place dedicated to honoring and preserving for all time the sacrifices of all generations of veterans, a place where veterans can tell stories that will be preserved for future generations.

In time, the memorial and museum will improve and grow. “Where do we get such men and woman,” Powell asked, “who are willing to lay down their lives if necessary for their country? I have had the privilege of command, as a career military officer. I have in my time stood in awe of ordinary men and women who, when called upon to do extraordinary things, have stepped up without hesitation. Where do they come from?”

Where indeed, I asked myself. Every hamlet, country farm or road, small town, and big city—everywhere that freedom-loving people reside: the land of the free because of the brave.

There’s no admission charge for veterans. If you’re near Columbus, go see it. You’ll be glad you did.


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