WASHINGTON, D.C. –
Senator Steve Daines spent his afternoon back on Capitol Hill fighting to build an education center at the heart of one of the nation’s most recognizable memorials.
Nearly 58,000 names don the wall that was built nearly two decades after one of the most divisive times in America’s history with thousands coming home from Vietnam only to be spit upon, shamed and even attacked for fighting for our country.
President and CEO of Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Wall, Jim Knotts told KFBB, “The repercussions of that experience are still being felt by our country today in lots of different ways.”
In order to get rid of that stigma completely, Knotts along with Senator Steve Daines is working on a bill that helps fund a new visitor center at the memorial wall in Washington D.C. in hopes of educating people about this era, all while continuing to honor those who served.
Sen. Steve Daines says, “It’s a bipartisan bill with Senator Duckworth of Illinois, it extends the time they need to raise funds to not only build a visitor but establish an endowment for the ongoing maintenance.”
Construction on the new visitor center can’t begin until the entire $130 million price tag had been funded. If the deadline isn’t extended, this project could become non-existent, possibly leaving parts of our history untold.
Knotts says, “Every one of those names and every one of those more than 2.7 million Vietnam veterans who served its individual stories. Some of the lives cut short, some of the lives changed by the Vietnam War. So having the education center will put into context what it means to have a wall with 58K names of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.” It’s a sacrifice Knotts and his family know all too well. “When I went to war for my country in the Persian Gulf War during Desert Storm, I could not have had more support and more respect for what we were doing and I know that’s because the Vietnam era vets made a commitment that they would never allow our country to send another generation of men and women into harms way without the proper support and respect that they deserve,” says Knotts.
So far they’ve raised nearly a third of the $130 million needed to build the site. Sen. Daines says time is of the essence for this bill as they only have about two more months to get it pushed through.