Weekly Columns

Arkansas has a history rooted in military tradition. You can see the impact of the brave heroes who defended our country in the names of our towns, schools and streets. We honor the service of our veterans with medals they earned and show our gratitude in special ceremonies and parades. 

Generations of Arkansans have followed in the footsteps of their family and friends who served in the military. Our state is home to the finest military installations, made of up of the finest troops and we’re working to maintain that tradition. 

In December, the Senate passed and the President signed the National Defense Authorization Act. This critical authorization bill helps protect our men and women in uniform and provides them with the resources they need to help them accomplish their missions. It also helps our state have a role in our nation’s military readiness. 

Our military stands ready to defend our interests at home and abroad and are ready to be called upon at a moment’s notice. The men and women who wear our nation’s uniform do so regardless of the costs, fully aware that they may even make the ultimate sacrifice for their country.  They deserve a fitting recognition for their selfless service. 

You can see the tributes to those who put their lives on the line to defend the United States and share our ideals across the globe in plaques, monuments and memorials across the country. We acknowledge the commitment Americans made on the battlefields and the home front to make the world a better place. 

However, there is no national memorial dedicated to the valor and sacrifices made by 500,000 members of our Armed Forces who honorably fought in Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield. This includes the nearly 400 service members who made the ultimate sacrifice in this conflict. 

As we reflect on this conflict and the 23rd anniversary of Operation Desert Storm on January 16, I’m proud to say that we’re working to change that. Last year, I joined with Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) to introduce legislation that paves the way for a national memorial in Washington, D.C. 

We have made progress on this front. Late last year, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources approved the legislation out of committee. Now we are working to bring it to the Senate floor. 

Funds for constructing the memorial would be raised privately by the National Desert Storm War Memorial Association. With no federal funding required, I’m confident we can get the support needed to pass the Senate as we seek to recognize these military operations and a proper tribute in our nation’s capital for the men and women who served in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.