Schatz's Bill Will Facilitate Construction of Long Awaited Memorial on National Mall Honoring Native Hawaiian, Native Alaskan, American Indian Vets
The U.S. Senate last night unanimously passed the Native American Memorial Amendments Act of 2013, introduced by U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai"i), paving the way forward for a long-awaited Native American Veterans Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Schatz's legislation to facilitate construction of the Native American Veterans' Memorial has already passed the House of Representatives and now goes to President Obama for his signature as he heads home to Hawai"i.
"In every conflict since the Revolutionary War, Native Americans have answered the call to serve and defend our country. It is long past time for our nation to honor the uncommon contributions of Native Hawaiian, Native Alaskan, American Indian, and other native veterans," said U.S. Senator Brian Schatz. "I introduced this bill so that our nation can recognize Native Americans' service and patriotism with a fitting memorial. A memorial to native veterans will make sure future generations learn about the sacrifices Native Americans made in service to our nation, and it will commemorate their exceptional commitment to the principles of freedom and democracy."
A Native American Veterans Memorial was originally established more than 20 years ago, but has unfortunately been languishing due to some funding and logistical problems. Senator Schatz's legislation will help pave the way forward for the memorial by allowing the National Museum of the American Indian to accept donations to privately fund the memorial, as well as enabling the museum to take on a more active role in planning and construction. Previously, the memorial would have had to be built inside the museum building, but Schatz's bill allows for the memorial to be located on the National Mall.
As part of his speech, Senator Schatz shared Hawai"i's proud record of Native Hawaiian military service and Maui's Army Private First Class Kaho'ohanohano for his acts of bravery in the Korean War that earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor.
"My home state of Hawai"i is second to none when it comes to patriotism, public service, and personal sacrifice," said Senator Schatz. "The heroic deeds of Anthony T. Kaho'ohanohano from Wailuku, Maui, prove just how true this is."
U.S. Senators Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Begich (D-Alaska), Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Hirono (D-Hawai"i), Inhofe (R-Okla.), Murkowski (R-Alaska), Tester (D-Mont.), Thune (R-S.D.), and Wyden (D-Ore.) are all co-sponsors of Schatz's bill.
This legislation builds off of the work of Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), who introduced the initial bill to authorize a native veterans memorial, and Senator Daniel Inouye (D-Hawai"i), who worked as Indian Affairs Committee chairman to enact the law in 1994. Senator Schatz's bill carries on the work of Senator Akaka who, as Indian Affairs Committee chairman, initiated this effort in 2012 to fulfill the promise of this memorial.