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New memorial at National Infantry Museum honors GWOT veterans

(COLUMBUS, Ga) – In honor of the brave men and women who gave their lives in the war on terrorism, the National Infantry Museum hosts the Global War on Terrorism Memorial dedication, October 16 in Columbus. General ( R ) John Abizaid, U. S. Army was the keynote speaker. Maj. Gen. Eric J. Wesley, Maneuver Center of Excellence commanding general spoke about the design of the memorial. Mr. Louie Giglio, Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz U.S. Army retired, Sgt. Maj. Carlton Kent, U.S. Marine Corps, retired, and Lt. Yonina E. Creditor, U.S. Navy also spoke. The memorial consists of eight granite panels etched with the names of nearly 7,000 service members who have died in the Global War on Terrorism since 9/11, according to a press release from the National Infantry Museum. Two concrete columns representing the Twin Towers hold up a 13-foot steel beam salvaged from the World Trade Center and donated by New York City Firefighters. Nine bronze statues representing a squad of infantry soldiers line the monument, along with narrative panels chronicling the United States’ longest war. The memorial was designed to honor all branches of the armed forces, and has illustrations of each service’s role in the Global War on Terrorism, according to the press release. (U.S. Army Photos by: Patrick A. Albright/MCoE PAO Photographer)

By Jess Dupree, Maneuver Center of Excellence Public Affairs

COLUMBUS, Ga. (Oct. 17, 2017) – The National Infantry Museum hosted service members and veterans to dedicate the first Global War on Terrorism memorial here during a ceremony at the museum yesterday.

The ceremony included guest speakers who served in the war, including Maj. Gen. Eric Wesley, the commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning, Georgia.

“Memorials are symbols of those who have gone before us.” Wesley said while describing the monument to the audience. “Symbols are important.”

The memorial includes a map of terrorist events leading up to the attacks of Sept. 11, a steel beam that was pulled from the wreckage of the north tower of the twin towers, and several walls with the names of almost 7,000 service members who have died. Some of the walls are left blank, as the war is still ongoing. Wesley said an annual ceremony is planned to add names to the memorial.

“We pray these walls never reach capacity,” he said.

At the center of the memorial is a bronze figure of Spc. Ross McGinnis, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. He is surrounded by eight additional bronze figures, who represent an infantry squad together with McGinnis as their leader. McGinnis’ parents were among the Gold Star families in attendance for the event.

“What would our country be without such men and women who gave their lives?” said Gen. (ret.) John Abizaid, who has served a combined 54 months in combat zones as deputy commander and combatant commander of U.S. Central Command. “But for those who fight for such rights, none of us could expect to enjoy them.”

The Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade out of Fort Benning flew three UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to conclude the ceremony with a “missing man flyby,” a military tradition in which aircraft are flown in formation with an empty slot symbolizing the missing man. Afterward, members of the audience were invited to walk through the memorial.

“It was very touching,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Ebony Peele, a sailor attached to Naval Operational Support Center Atlanta. “Just seeing the number of names is incredibly humbling.”

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