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Samantha L. Quigley American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 3, 2008 – A memorial in Oklahoma City will honor servicemembers who paid the ultimate sacrifice for freedom while serving Afghanistan and Iraq.
“Military memorials … remind us of the great sacrifices that have been made for this country and the world,” said Jason Savage, president of “Freedom Memorials,” A nonprofit group dedicated to planning and raising money for the memorial. “It’s important to honor those sacrifices today.”
That’s a tall order if the desired location is on National Park Service land in the National Capital Region, Savage discovered.
“The Commemorative Works Act of 1986, which deals with land areas administered by the National Park Service and the General Services Administration, states in part, ‘An event or individual cannot be memorialized prior to the 25th anniversary of the event or the death of the individual,’” Savage said.
For wars, that waiting period begins at the conclusion of the fighting.
“Given those circumstances, we began a site search (and) were presented with the wonderful opportunity to have his memorial located adjacent to one of the nation’s finest military museums,” Savage said. “The parents, relatives, and friends of those lost today should be able to visit (a memorial).”
The memorial will be located in Oklahoma City’s Thunderbird Park, which is next to the 45th Infantry Division Museum. It will be the first of its kind, with photos of each fallen servicemember and a personal tribute etched into black stainless steel, Savage said.
“This memorial will bring a reality to this nation’s losses like no other, an everlasting history to these brave individuals, the sacrifices that were made and the families who will never forget,” he said.
Savage, who never served in the military himself, feels a strong tie to the community. During World War II, his father served in the Office of Strategic Services, the predecessor to today’s CIA. His mother was a stenographer at the Nuremberg war crimes trials, and he grew up in Charleston, S.C., when the Navy base there was in full operation.
“Now I live close to Fort Bragg, N.C., and run road races on the base with the soldiers,” he said. “I have great respect for what they are doing for our country, (and) I wanted to do something special to honor them and the families of the fallen.”
More information about and renderings of the National Afghanistan and Iraq War Memorial are available on the Freedom Memorials Web site.
Editor's Note: To find out about more individuals, groups and organizations that are helping support the troops, visit www.AmericaSupportsYou.mil. America Supports You directly connects military members to the support of the America people and offers a tool to the general public in their quest to find meaningful ways to support the military community.