Over a decade after the US-led invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have a long ways to go in securing their place in the nation's collective memory through a monument on Washington's iconic National Mall.
The sprawling promenade in the heart of the capital, where the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial tower over memorials for World War II and the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam, showcases more than two centuries of history.
But any plan to commemorate the over 7,000 American troops killed in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan has to meet tough regulations and will probably have to wait for history's verdict on the now deeply unpopular wars.
There is a very high level of support for some kind of memorial in Washington, It is important that you have a reminder of the human cost of war in the capital… But Congress has set the bar high for national memorials in Washington.
Since 1986, the Commemorative Works Act requires that a monument remembering "a war or similar major military conflict" may not be authorized until at least 10 years after the "officially designated end" of hostilities.
U.S. Code Title 40, Subtitle II, Part D. Chapter 8903 - Congressional authorization of commemorative works
(b) Military Commemorative Works.— A military commemorative work may be authorized only to commemorate a war or similar major military conflict or a branch of the armed forces. A commemorative work solely commemorating a limited military engagement or a unit of an armed force may not be authorized. Commemorative works to a war or similar major military conflict may not be authorized until at least 10 years after the officially designated end of such war or conflict.
That's a 10-year waiting period for authorization, and then designing, funding, and building the monument often takes another ten years or more…
While it took less than a decade after the US withdrawal from Vietnam to create the memorial listing the names of more than 58,000 dead and missing US soldiers on a black granite wall, World War II veterans had to wait almost six decades until a memorial opened to the public in April 2004.
Final thought... there is still no monument on the Mall honoring the soldiers of World War I.