Plans call for the hundreds of thousands of American troops who led a 34-nation coalition to liberate Kuwait from Iraq’s invasion during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm to be honored with a new memorial by 2021, thanks in part to the help of a MOAA member.
Former Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), a retired Marine Corps colonel, is pushing efforts to bring the National Desert Storm and Desert Shield Memorial to Washington, D.C., in time to mark the war’s 30th anniversary. The short and successful battle represented a shift in Americans’ thoughts about war, Kline said.
“I think it’s important that we have a memorial because it shows the break in American attitude from Vietnam to Desert Shield, where Americans were very proud,” Kline said. “Desert Storm was fast and brutal. It really was a very, very significant event and very big change in attitude.”
Iraq invaded Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990. After diplomatic efforts to liberate Kuwait failed, U.S. and coalition forces began air attacks the following January and a ground offensive in late February. U.S. forces liberated the Kuwaiti capital on Feb. 27, the same day President George H.W. Bush declared an end to combat operations. More than 300 Americans were killed during the war.
The memorial’s founding members – Scott Stump, Brenten Byrd and John Jordan – realized the need for the memorial after reflecting on the 20th anniversary. They created the National Desert Storm War Memorial Association.
Plans call for the memorial to be on the National Mall near the Lincoln Memorial, a location approved by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump in March 2017. Federal funding can’t be used to establish the memorial, and the founders are seeking about $40 million for the design and construction.
The design has not been finalized, Kline said. The goal is to educate visitors on the significance of America’s role in the war, as well as the strength of the coalition.
A physical memorial will also provide a place for people to pause and remember, Kline said.
“I think it’s important that you have a place for people to go,” he said. “Once it’s in place, I think it will be a lot like what the Vietnam War memorial is – a meaningful experience for people. People need to understand what happened.”
Amanda Dolasinski MOAA’s staff writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @AmandaMOAA.