This morning, Speaker Pelosi was honored to join Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, former Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony Principi, Co-Founder and Chair of the Disabled Veterans’ LIFE Memorial Foundation Lois B. Pope, and Gary Sinise at the groundbreaking ceremony for the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial:
Currently, there are more than 3 million living disabled American veterans, including 53,000 who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The new memorial will be across from the Botanic Garden, just below the Capitol, and is expected to be completed in two years. The Disabled Veterans’ LIFE Memorial Foundation explains the significance of the design:
At this sacred spot, all of us—sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, wives, husbands and friends—will learn the important lessons of courage, sacrifice, tenacity, loyalty and honor by bearing witness to the experiences of our heroes who are disabled.
The focal point of the Memorial will be a star-shaped reflecting pool, its surface broken only by a single eternal flame. A grove of trees will stand sentry beside the pool, signifying the persistence of hope.
Dedicated to both the living and the deceased—a setting for coming together or quiet meditation—the Memorial will hold a special place in the hearts of all Americans, and will serve as a never-ending reminder to all of the cost of human conflict.
Today, in breaking ground on the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, we set down a marker in that same tradition – to remember the true cost of war, as the Secretary said, the cost of war and conflict to our troops and their families.
We pay tribute to the sacrifice of those who served and came home changed forever but not their spirit, just physically and gave part of their lives abroad so that we could be safe at home. In a bipartisan way, we in Congress know that protecting the American people is our first responsibility. And our veterans do just that. And when they are disabled, we need to be there for them and make sure everyone remembers the sacrifice.
In the name of all veterans – past, present, and future – we break ground today to ensure that time does not dim the glory of their deeds; that time holds their deeds in the highest esteem; that, like the flame at the center of this memorial, the flame of their deeds burns eternal. Very important.
My uncle, Johnny D’Alesandro, died at the Battle of the Bulge. There wasn’t a day that went by that my father didn’t mourn the loss of his brother, but he also took enormous pride that his brother, our family, sacrificed for our country. And so the tributes to those who lost their lives continue. But today, we take a very specific step in recognizing those who were disabled and who still continue to contribute to this strength of America in so many ways.
As we approach Veterans Day, we reaffirm our commitment to honor the patriotism, the courage, and service of all of our men and women in uniform. Whether they are in the theater of battle or wherever they serve our country, because of them, because of you, we are the land of the free and the home of the brave.
In building this memorial, we are taking a critical step forward in fulfilling our pledge: that just as our troops leave no one behind on the battlefield, when they come home, we leave no veteran behind.