We’re living through historic times. Between the coronavirus pandemic, current protest movements and the upcoming election, we have an opportunity to think about how this moment fits into our historical narrative and also consider past generations.
As a history teacher, I see how my students are interested in recent history and how our world was shaped by the collective experience of World War II. The stories of the everyday men and women who served show the relevance of history and instill in students values of civic engagement and community service.
In 2017, I attended the Friends of the National World War II Memorial Teachers Conference. Every summer, Friends brings teachers from around the country to Washington, D.C., to explore a wealth of World War II history resources and tools aimed at educating current and future generations about the men and women who won the war and reshaped America.
The best part of the conference comes in the year after, during which teachers complete a community service project with students. Through our service to the Battleship Texas Foundation, I was able to teach my students that their individual action can positively impact their community, and that the values of our Greatest Generation are still relevant today.
The World War II Memorial honors the 16 million who served in the U.S. Armed Forces, the more than 400,000 who died and the millions who supported the war effort from home. The memorial reminds more than 5 million visitors each year of the spirit, sacrifice and commitment of the American people to the common defense of the nation. It also reaches beyond the physical to provides powerful classroom imagery that inspires learning for students.
The memorial is 16 years old and in dire need of repair. This important monument must survive for succeeding generations. U.S. Rep Marcy Kaptur has introduced bipartisan legislation to help preserve and repair the National World War II Memorial. H.R. 4681 would have the U.S. Treasury mint coins in commemoration of the memorial.
Proceeds from sale of the coins will go to the Friends of the National World War II Memorial for maintenance, repair and educational programs. The bill has 115 cosponsors, but it needs at least 290 House cosponsors before it can be considered for a vote.
I’m calling for U.S. Rep. Randy Weber to cosponsor this important bill. Without it, the National Park Service, which is already dealing with a $12 million backlog nationwide, will have to pay for the much needed repairs. This bill will raise private dollars, saving millions in taxpayer money and preserving this important monument.
One of the greatest lessons I hope to instill in my students is that of civic engagement and community service. What better way to serve our nation than by preserving and repairing this important memorial that reminds us to honor and remember the men and women who served during World War II?
This memorial stands as an important symbol of national unity and all that we can accomplish when we are bonded together in a common and just cause. It is our responsibility to protect it so that future generations will not forget.