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Texas memorial planned for fallen soldiers of Iraq, Afghanistan wars

A foundation is raising money to build a memorial to fallen soldiers of the war on terrorism, including the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. It's planned for rural Texas, but some say it should be in Washington.

By Matt RocheleauContributor / May 27, 2010

Veteran Dana Bennett, a Marine who served in Vietnam in 1970, pauses at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial as he remembers a fallen comrade on Veterans Day, 2007.

Andy Nelson/The Christian Science Monitor/File

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For many Americans, Memorial Day weekend will include visits to the national war memorials in the nation’s capital.

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But a new memorial honoring fallen soldiers of the Iraq, Afghanistan, and Gulf wars is being planned as well – not in Washington, but in rural Texas.

Based in Mansfield, Texas, the United States Fallen Heroes Foundation (USFHF) hopes to build the 14-acre memorial in open farmland off Interstate 20 in the small, rural city of Kennedale, Texas.

Why not Washington? A lack of federally owned or private land in a city already crowded with monuments and memorials, say organizers.

Texas’s two US senators, Republicans John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison, support the memorial’s construction in the Lone Star State, said the foundation’s campaign publicist Amanda LaPlante, and they plan to seek congressional approval for its national recognition on the foundation’s behalf.

But Jan Scruggs, the Vietnam vet who 30 years ago persuaded Congress to build the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall near the Lincoln Memorial, says the group shouldn’t give up on Washington as a site for the new memorial.

“Land is free in Washington, D.C., but you have to do something first, and that is persuade Congress to get federal land,” says Mr. Scruggs. “It’s not heavy lifting to get authorized to do this.”

Gaining congressional approval for federal land in the District of Columbia took seven months, says Scruggs, and although the capital city is “running out of room for monuments” and rules for building them may be more complicated today, “the legitimacy of a national memorial is important.”

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