Veterans of the 1991 conflict known as the Gulf War will be honored at a new memorial in the nation’s capital.
On Thursday, officials will dedicate the National Desert Storm and Desert Shield War Memorial, which will be located on the National Mall in Washington, DC. It will honor the approximately 700,000 American military personnel deployed in Iraq and Kuwait.
Little Rock native Jeff Kurczek joined other veterans of the conflict in leading the charge to build the new memorial, which he says is needed to honor the hundreds of U.S. service members killed in the battles.
“Good can come when diplomacy works between nations and they come together to defeat a common enemy, so that would be one point. Another, of course, is the sacrifice that people have made, our military, and just to remember that this was a moment in history that we feel is very important and needs to be remembered,” Kurczek said.
The Gulf War, led by the United States after Iraq’s invasion and annexation of Kuwait, left nearly 300 American servicemen dead and nearly 500 wounded in combat. Kurczek says the memorial’s design is inspired by the “left hook” strategy in which coalition forces blocked a potential retreat from Kuwait by Iraqi troops.
Kurczek, who is chief financial officer of the National Desert Storm War Memorial Association, says the goal is to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in a conflict that can sometimes be overshadowed.
“There were sacrifices all around, and it was a very important conflict, especially in terms of the American coalition which had almost 40 countries that came together,” he said. “There were over 700,000 American troops in theater, and it was a great example of what can happen when countries come together and work together for a common cause.”
The site, which is expected to open by Veterans Day 2024, will be located between the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. A groundbreaking ceremony will be streamed live online Thursday beginning at 9 a.m. Central Standard Time.