President Barack Obama called The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, currently under construction in Washington D.C., the country’s recognition for disabled veterans’ “profound sacrifice” in defending the nation. His remarks were made before more than 4,000 attendees at the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) annual convention in Orlando. The Memorial is scheduled for dedication on October 12, 2014.
To rousing applause, the president said, “That memorial will honor your courage in war. But it will also pay tribute to your bravery in the other battle you have fought — the fight to recover from the wounds of war. And this may be your greatest triumph of all. Because rather than being defined by what you lost, by what you can’t do, you’ve inspired America with what you can do.”
Obama went on to say, “Maybe you lost your sight, but you can still see the truth that our disabled veterans make extraordinary contributions to our country every single day. Maybe you lost an arm, but you still have the strength to pick up a friend or neighbor in need. Maybe you lost a leg, but you still stand tall for the values and freedoms that make America the greatest nation on Earth.
“I think of the wounded warrior who spoke for so many of you when he said, ‘Your life will never be the same, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go on to do amazing things with the second chance you were given.’ I think of wounded warriors across America and how they’ve used that second chance –volunteering in communities, building homes, being a mentor to local kids, showing up after tornadoes, after Hurricane Sandy to help folks rebuild. I think of the wounded warriors who reached out to the survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing with the example of their own recovery and with a simple message – ‘We stand with you.’
“I think of all the inspiring wounded warriors that Michelle and I have met — their resilience, their resolve, their determination to push through and to carry on. That’s the fighting spirit of our wounded warriors.”
Following the president’s address, Arthur H. Wilson, DAV retired national adjutant and co-founder and president of the board of the Disabled Veterans Life Memorial Foundation, the organization responsible for the fundraising, design and construction of the Memorial said, “We are grateful and honored that the president recognized the Memorial as such a significant milestone in the recognition of the bravery and sacrifice of our disabled veterans. By praising the ‘fighting spirit of wounded warriors,’ he renewed his commitment to the nation’s military veterans and especially our disabled military veterans.”
“It gives me immense satisfaction that the President of the United States shined the spotlight on the Memorial with his extremely moving remarks,” said Lois Pope, who conceived the Memorial and, as co-founder and chairman of the board of the Disabled Veterans Life Memorial Foundation, has spearheaded its development over the past two decades. “His poignant recognition reaffirms that the Memorial will take its place in history as an important and essential addition to our national gathering places honoring service and sacrifice on the battlefield. It is a long overdue honor. This Memorial will ensure that they and their sacrifices will always be remembered, while also educating future generations about the human cost of war.”
The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial was unanimously authorized by Congress in 2000 “to honor veterans who became disabled while serving in the Armed Forces of the United States.” The site was approved in 2001 and the final design was approved in 2009 and 2010 by the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts and the National Capital Planning Commission respectively. It will be located on a 2.4-acre triangle between Washington Avenue SW, C Street SW and Second Street SW, sits across from the U.S. Botanic Garden and within view of the U.S. Capitol.
To learn more about the Memorial, please visit http://www.avdlm.org/.