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Group seeks monument for D.C. vets

(Published March 27, 2000)

By SAM STRIKE

Staff Writer

People come to the national Mall from all over the country to see memorials dedicated to those who fought and died for America.

But, unlike most towns throughout America, they wonít find a memorial in the nationís capital built to honor hometown residents for their military service.

D.C. "shadow" Sen. Florence Pendleton and a handful of residents are trying to erect such a tribute to veterans from the District.

"We havenít thought enough of ourselves to include ourselves (in a monument)," Pendleton said of D.C. residents. Pendleton was one of the first people elected to the Districtís two "shadow" senator positions, which were created as unpaid and unfunded offices to help lobby for D.C. statehood.

A handful of people who met March 18 plan to form committees to decide the location, funding and type of edifice to propose. Pendleton said the group plans to meet again at 10:30 a.m. April 8 on the 10th floor of One Judiciary Square, 441 Fourth St. NW.

The purpose for a tribute to all D.C. military veterans, Pendleton said, is to recognize all residents who served both in times of war and peace, in battle or not, including special service unit members who entertained troops with shows or sports.

There is a "tremendous groundswell" among veterans in favor of a monument, said Bert Harris, who was awarded the militaryís purple heart for a shrapnel wound he received when a mortar round exploded while he was serving with the Marine Corps in Vietnam.

Washington "is a city of monuments and edifices, so certainly it would enhance the city as one more treasure," he said. Harris is a third-generation Washingtonian whose three brothers and extended family members were also servicemen. Some of his family members even served in the Civil War, he said.

He said he would like the monument "to call national attention to the traditional sacrifices that residents of D.C. have made in service to this countryÖits dedication should be one that recognizes that we have also made our contribution to the country all the way back to the beginning of the Civil War."

Pendleton said she has received positive responses from constituents for something to "dignify their service" to the country.

Copyright 2000, The Common Denominator