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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.

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“In my personal opinion, there should be a monument of significance to the people who have served in the war on terror dating back to Lebanon,” adds Scruggs, referring to the 1983 bombing of the US Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 American servicemen. “And, it should be somewhere at or near the nation’s capital.”

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For their part, promoters say having the new monument far from Washington will make it more accessible and more affordable for many visitors. The site is about 30 miles from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

Asked about opposition to building a national war memorial so far from Washington, Ms. LaPlante said, “I expect it, but I haven’t seen it yet.”

"People seem very excited to have it here as opposed to in D.C.," she added. "People become overwhelmed by the sheer number of monuments there are to see in D.C., and flustered when trying to decide which monument to visit while they are in town."

The “Fallen Heroes Memorial” design will include a plaque with a photo of each service member killed in the three wars – 5,859 so far – as well as those who died in the Fort Hood shooting or in other incidents related to the war on terror. Specific design ideas may be submitted until Sept. 11. The winning design will be announced Nov. 11 (Veterans Day).

“If there is a family that feels their soldier should be honored as well, they can petition to be included,” says LaPlante, adding that the foundation is open to adding plaques for soldiers who died in related conflicts or incidents between 1988 and the present because the current conflict involving terrorism is “difficult to define.”

Soldiers’ next of kin will choose the photos, and the foundation has connected with nearly 1,300 families thus far. Of the estimated $12 million to $15 million cost, about $1.7 million has been raised so far from individuals and businesses.

The foundation expects the memorial site, set in a city of 7,100, to attract as many as 5 million visitors annually to the nearby Arlington and Dallas/Fort-Worth areas.

Donations can be made online, at http://www.fallenheroesfoundation.com/, or mailed to United States Fallen Heroes Foundation, 4424 Shady Elm Drive, Mansfield, TX 76063.

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