Jul 13 2023
National Medal of Honor Museum
Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands heard testimony on bipartisan legislation to locate the new National Medal of Honor Monument within 1,000 feet of the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The location was selected as a tribute to the intertwined legacies of the Medal of Honor and the nation’s 16th president, who created the Medal more than 160 years ago.
“When President Lincoln created the Medal of Honor in 1861 and awarded the first Medals in 1863, he knew the challenge of keeping our country whole would require incredible sacrifice. He also knew raising the nation’s collective gaze to the horizon of things which unite us would be of paramount importance both during the war and after,” Medal of Honor recipient and Command Master Chief Britt Slabinski testified during the hearing. “There is nothing more uniting than the shared human values represented by the Medal of Honor: courage and sacrifice, commitment and integrity, citizenship and patriotism. … This monument is a way for Lincoln’s voice of reason to continue gently whispering into the future admonishing us to focus on the things that united us and on our shared values.”
In his testimony, Slabinski noted that the original plans for the Lincoln Memorial extended its footprint to the edge of the reflecting pool with two additional components, but for unknown reasons, the final pieces were never built. With the current ongoing renovations to improve and preserve the Lincoln Memorial, “we believe there is no better time to revisit the original intent and in the most deferential of ways create a lasting physical representation of the bond between Lincoln and the Medal of Honor,” he said.
The legislation, titled the Hershel “Woody” Williams National Medal of Honor Location Act, was named in tribute to the last living recipient from World War II. Williams passed away last June and laid in honor at the U.S. Capitol. During his testimony, Slabinski wore the rosette from Williams’ Medal of Honor, which was entrusted to him by Williams’ family.
Introduced earlier this year by U.S. Reps. Blake Moore (R-UT) and Marc Veasey (D-TX), the bipartisan HR 2717 follows Congress’ 2021 unanimous approval of legislation authorizing the creation of the Monument. According to HR 2717, the National Medal of Honor Monument will serve not only as a “respectful extension” of Lincoln’s legacy but also as a tribute to “what ordinary people can accomplish when working for the greater good.”
“We have to get this done. I believe this is a sacred effort. As Congressman Veasey and I have written, our hope is that this monument will stand as a testament to those who fought to safeguard freedom and democracy,” Moore said during the hearing.
The Medal of Honor is America’s highest award for valor in combat. Of the more than 41 million Americans to have served in the Armed Forces, fewer than 4,000 have received the Medal.
During the hearing, Slabinski spoke of the true meaning and symbolism behind the Medal of Honor, saying, “The Medal of Honor is a symbol. It is the embodiment of the ideals that built our nation. It is an aspiration of our still-forming more perfect union, and it is a reminder of the responsibility all Americans have to serve one another and a greater good.”
The creation of the monument in Washington, D.C. will complement the future National Medal of Honor Museum, scheduled to open in early 2025 in Arlington, TX. No federal funds will be used to build the monument. The National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation will be responsible for raising funds to cover expenses associated with the project.