Fallujah. Marjah. Those cities will be etched forever in Marine Corps history among other bloody battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And now, those wars will be etched on the Marine Corps’ iconic bronze U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, also known as the Iwo Jima Memorial, in Arlington, Virginia.
On Tuesday, the Marine Corps unveiled new engravings on the memorial for the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.
They are the first additions since the etchings of the Persian Gulf, Panama, and Somalia in October 1996.
The wars are still ongoing, and the etchings notably do not have an end date for either. Typically, the end date is not added until at least five years after the war ends.
But for now, Marines who served in those wars have a monument that memorializes their service, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Bob Neller said at a ceremony unveiling the etchings.
“This is a place where Marines come to see the names of places they may have been or others have been, to reflect, recommit, and think about what it means to serve their nation in the U.S. military, especially as a United States Marine” he said.
“It honors and memorializes the sacrifice of 1,481 Marines who gave the last full measure in those conflicts,” he said.
“And because they are no longer with us in the flesh, we must take a moment to thank their families, their sons, their daughters, their spouses, their fathers, their mothers, cousins, for what they did and what they represent — all that’s good about our nation.”
He also asked that the country keep those who are serving overseas and their families this Thanksgiving in their thoughts and prayers.
— Kristina Wong (@kristina_wong) November 21, 2017
There are currently hundreds of Marines deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Neller said “hopefully one day there will be an end date on it.”
Will Shafroth, president and CEO of the National Park Foundation noted, “They continue to be our first responders around the world.”
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, a retired Navy SEAL, Iraq veteran, and former Republican congressman of Montana, also spoke at the ceremony. As interior secretary, he oversees the nation’s parks and memorials.
“Today the monument behind us is a symbol of dedication, devotion, commitment, duty honor, and country,” he said.
Businessman David M. Rubenstein, who donated $5.37 million to renovate the memorial, said it was a modest way to give back to the country.
“But there is no way to give back to your country more significantly than what Lincoln called the ‘last full measure of devotion,'” he said.
“Those Marines who gave their lives on behalf of our country deserve enormous credit for sacrificing their lives and doing so much to help our country, to preserve its freedom, its peace, its liberty, its justice.”
Rubenstein said his late father was a Marine.
“I regret that he didn’t live to see this occurrence, but I know that somewhere he is watching down, and proud of what’s happened, and proud to be a Marine.”