Remember Desert Storm
A memorial for that two-part conflict
Desert Storm was rightly named, and remains one of the great if all too-soon-forgotten victories of both American arms and American statecraft. At last that war is to have a monument of its own in the nation’s capital, which is already overflowing with memorials dedicated to the veterans of other conflicts. That is, if veterans of that classic conflict like Arkansas’ own Jeff Kurczek of Sherwood and Brenten Byrd of Elm Springs have their way, and there’s little doubt in the minds of those who watched that conflict unfold that they will. Just as they had their way in the unforgiving sands of Kuwait back in January and February of 1991.
Messrs. Kurczek and Byrd serve on the board of the National Desert Storm War Memorial Association and, while amateurs at fund-raising, their learning curve is as sharp as ever. No, they don’t have any big-name celebrities or certifiable billionaires aboard yet, but they may have something better: the support of Arkansas’ senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton. And that’s not to mention some 700,000 other Americans who were deployed for that two-part war, operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
Of that number, 383 died in the line of duty, and, of those, four Arkansans died. “We were just amazed back in 2010,” says Brenten Byrd, “that they hadn’t started a memorial for the Desert Storm veterans who lost their lives.” So they started one.
“It is a lot of work and at times it’s challenging,” says Jeff Kurczek.
“They told us at the very beginning it would take a minimum of . . . 8 to 10 years” to set up the fund-raising project, “and that’s a fast track. There’s a 24-step process to get a memorial built in Washington . . . We are at, I believe, around 11 or 12,” said Byrd.
Never underestimate the American fighting man or woman. That’s a lesson Saddam Hussein had to learn the hard way.
Besides, these vets have another one named Tom Cotton on their side, and he can wax eloquent on this subject: “For every man and woman who fought in that war, that’s the biggest war in their life. For the man or woman who was in that fight, it’s their Normandy and it’s their Gettysburg and I think they deserve to be honored with an appropriate memorial.”
As surely they will be. For there’s no stopping veterans like these — whether in a foreign war or, later, right here at home.