Oklahoma Gold Star Families Push For Global War On Terrorism Memorial To Go On National Mall In DC

An effort is underway right now in Washington D.C. to put a privately-funded Global War On Terrorism Memorial on the National Mall.

Thursday, October 7th 2021, 9:01 am

An effort is underway right now in Washington D.C. to put a privately-funded Global War On Terrorism Memorial on the National Mall.

In 2003, congress passed a bill to keep any more developments from going on the mall, but a new bill would make an exception for a memorial honoring those who served and died in America's longest war.

It made it through the House of Representatives, but Senate Bill 535 is having trouble getting through the Senate because of one lawmaker.

Oklahoma Gold Star families told News On 6's Tess Maune that they won't compromise, the Global War On Terrorism Memorial must be in our nation's most prominent space.

"It's just upsetting," said 9-year-old TJ Potter as he flipped through pictures of a man he's never met, his dad Tony Potter.

"Once a month I kind of skim through them, like before bed or something like that," TJ said.

TJ's dad served in the Oklahoma National Guard. He was killed by enemy gunfire in Afghanistan 10 years ago, just a few months before TJ was born.

"If I would have got to meet him then that would have been the greatest thing ever," said TJ.

In many of the pictures, TJ sees himself.

"I do look just like him," TJ said with a big smile.

But more than anything they help him feel a connection to his dad, along with the many stories TJ's mom, Emily has to share.

"He loved his country, he was very outgoing, very into sports and had lots of friends," said Emily Potter-Roberts. "I try to just keep his dad's memory alive. I tell him all I can about him. We do as much as we can so he can know him."

TJ and his mom want the world to know Tony, along with every other service member who gave the ultimate sacrifice in war over the past 20 years. They're pushing for a Global War On Terrorism Memorial to go on the National Mall in Washington D.C. where every other war memorial sits.

"I think it's important to everyone. It's not just ours, it's everyone's," said Emily. "It's almost a piece of closure knowing his name is going to stay alive forever and it's not gonna be forgotten and it's with everyone else there."

Oklahoma Senators Jim Inhofe and James Lankford support the memorial and are listed as co-sponsors of the Global War On Terrorism Memorial Location Act. But Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, is working to block legislation that would make it happen.

"I can't believe that it's even a discussion. It's a no-brainer to me, it shouldn't even be questioned. It is important and it is healing and it just needs to be done," Emily said.

So for now TJ finds peace spending time outside with his horses and through all the pictures, videos and stories of his dad.

"He was definitely loyal, honorable, kind," TJ said. "I want to be just like him."

And he wants to see a place of healing through a memorial that can be shared for generations to come.

"So I can go there and show my kids that that was their grandfather," said TJ.

"And know that his legacy is going to live on forever," Emily added.

News On 6 reached out to Senator Manchin's office more than a week ago, but still hasn't heard back.

Senator Inhofe shared a statement saying, “I’m proud to cosponsor the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Location Act,” Inhofe said. “It is important that we pay tribute to all of the brave men and women who served and sacrificed for our freedom against the war on terror, including the 13 service members who were killed last month.”


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