Fundraising for the National Desert Storm and Desert Shield Memorial in Washington, D.C.., is an “all or none mission,” according to organizers.
“I am an all or none type of person and this is an all or none type of mission. It would be disgraceful and disrespectful to all who served and died, along with their families, to not be able to raise the very modest amount of funds necessary to complete the mission,” said Scott Stump, CEO of the Desert Storm Memorial Association. “However, this isn't something that has even a remote chance of happening, so I never even think about it and neither does our team.”
Currently about $32 million short of its $40 million fundraising goal, Stump said the largest contributor so far has been the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which has donated $500,000 to the effort to bring the memorial to the nation's capital.
“In addition, VFW Posts and departments all across the nation have been contributing independently,” he said.
The memorial is planned for a site near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Its tentative design would be a half-circle representative of the so-called left hook used by American ground forces to cut off Iraqi troops in the Saudi desert during the 1991 effort to drive Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein from Kuwait.
“We had close to 700,000 Americans answer the call who were ready to make the ultimate sacrifice if asked to,” Stump said. “We also had 383 Americans and hundreds of coalition members who did make the ultimate sacrifice. They can never be forgotten since their sacrifice is just as important as any made before or after Operations Desert Shield and Storm.”
Stump said the liberation of Kuwait was one of the most successful military actions in history and “will be remembered.”
“This along with the fact that the lasting legacy in this country is that the relationship between the American public and those who serve and have served was forever altered,” he said. “The commonly used phrase `thank you for your service’ was born of Desert Storm and the young men and women who served following Desert Storm are the benefits of this lasting legacy.”
If all goes well and they are able to raise the funds, the association plans for a groundbreaking in 2020 and a dedication ceremony in 2021, the 30th anniversary of Desert Shield/Storm.
“This memorial will be very different from many other war memorials in that although remembering our fallen is of utmost importance, this will not be a place of mourning,” Stump said. “The positive aspects and victory achieved will be highlighted for the ages.”