This Memorial Day, don't forget Desert Storm

This Memorial Day, don't forget Desert Storm
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This Memorial Day, the largest contingent of Operation Desert Storm Veterans will march down the Washington, D.C.’s Constitution Avenue in the National Memorial Day Parade. This year marks 28 years since the end of Operation Desert Storm, and as more than 450 Desert Storm Veterans congregate for the 14th National Memorial Day Parade, we look back after victory was declared to free Kuwait.

I am often reminded that there are those who are not old enough to even remember the war. Those too young to remember tend to view Desert Storm through the lens of it being a video-game war that took only 100 hours where “nobody died,” never considering that troops were in place seven months prior, or overlooking all the action leading up to the ground war in Operation Desert Shield.

There are a multitude of reasons why it is imperative to remember Operation Desert Storm and Desert Shield and all who served.

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First, we liberated Kuwait, where citizens endured unspeakable atrocities over a seven-month Iraqi Operation. When it was decided that the United States would act, President George H.W. Bush delivered a televised message to the American people and said, “America has never wavered when her purpose is driven by principle.” Liberating Kuwait forever changed the future course of not just Kuwait and the Middle East but the world.

It’s also amazing that this feat was accomplished through the cooperation of a coalition of 35 other countries from five continents, who came together and did what was right. This is even more astonishing today, when we can’t even get 35 states to agree on anything. I sincerely doubt that we will ever see that level of international cooperation again in our lifetimes.

Operation Desert Storm was also a significant turning point in our country’s history in how the military is viewed and treated. Our citizens collectively came to the realization that the horrific treatment many Vietnam veterans experienced upon returning home, only two decades preceding Operation Desert Storm, could never again happen.

If not for those lessons learned in 1991, I seriously doubt that our brave men and women who have served in the post-9/11 military would be treated with the dignity and respect they absolutely deserve and enjoy to this day.

Lastly, we can never forget to remember the 383 Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice. Their sacrifice is identical — and just as valuable — as those made at Bunker Hill, Gettysburg, Iwo Jima, Omaha Beach, Khe Sanh and Falluja.

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We also need to remember the 670,000 who voluntarily answered the call to serve in harm’s way with no guarantee of ever returning home safely. They were ready to lay down their lives for all of us.

As the Desert Storm and Shield veterans march down Constitution Avenue on Monday, they will end just steps from where the site was consecrated for what will be the new National Desert Storm and Desert Shield Memorial. This dream of a memorial is finally coming to life as a place where family, friends and people from nations around the world will be able to gather to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice and to those who served.

Scott C. Stump is a Desert Storm veteran and is spearheading the all-volunteer Desert Storm and Desert Shield War Memorial Association, has secured the location for the new Desert Storm and Desert Shield Memorial on the National Mall at Constitution Avenue and 23rd Street NW. The Memorial will begin groundbreaking in 2020 and in 2021, the 30th Anniversary of Desert Storm, and will be dedicated on Veteran’s Day. To support the Memorial Capital Campaign or learn more, visit www.NDSWM.org.