WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) announced today that his amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (H.R. 1585) to require a report on the plans of the Secretary of the Army and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to replace the monument at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia (S. Amdt. 2995) was included in the manager’s package of amendments by unanimous consent of the Senate. Sen. Jim Webb (D-Virginia) is an original cosponsor.
The amendment seeks to clarify the plans of the Secretaries to replace the monument at the Tomb of the Unknown due to cosmetic cracks that have appeared over time in the facing of the monument. It would require the Secretaries to provide Congress with a description of the current efforts to maintain and preserve the monument and an assessment of the feasibility and advisability of repairing rather then replacing it. The Secretaries would also be required to report on their plans to replace the monument and, if replaced, how they intend to dispose of the current monument. The amendment would prevent the Secretaries from taking action to replace the monument until 180 days after the receipt of the report.
Sen. Akaka said: “We must move with great caution before making any decisions that would irrevocably affect this national treasure. Many believe it is a symbol that cannot be replicated and should be considered in the same vein as other imperfect symbols of our heritage such as the Liberty Bell and the Star Spangled Banner, the flag that inspired our National Anthem. Our amendment does not preclude the Secretaries from replacing the monument at the Tomb of the Unknowns in the future, but seeks to ensure that we move with great caution.”
"Since World War I, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier has served to commemorate and immortalize those who never returned from the battlefield," said Senator Jim Webb. "Though cracked this monument represents the patriotic spirit of all of the brave unidentified men and women who have fought and died in America's wars. I am pleased that the decision to replace this memorial has been postponed. I look forward to reviewing a full assessment of the memorial's damage and recommendations for moving forward judiciously."
The amendment is now part of H.R. 1585. Debate on that bill continues today on the Senate floor.
Jesse Broder Van Dyke works for Sen. Daniel Akaka in Washington, D.C.
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