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Lawmakers Push For National Memorial For US Terror Victims - 2002-03-19

The U.S. Congress is moving to establish a national memorial to victims of terrorism in the wake of last September's terror attacks. But it is a process likely to take years.

The proposal is for a memorial on the National Mall in Washington that is already home to numerous monuments to presidents, generals and America's war dead.

The National Memorial to Victims of Terrorism would include not only those who died on September 11, but the hundreds of others who have died in terrorist incidents targeting Americans over the past few decades.

Among those urging lawmakers to support the idea is Lisa Beamer. Her husband Todd was aboard United Flight number 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania on September 11 after an apparent passenger uprising that wrested control of the plane from the terrorist hijackers.

"And I'm very glad that someday I will be able to bring my children to the mall and show them a place that has their daddy's name on it," she said, "and I think it will be important for them and for all the little children and the children yet to be born to understand what happened on September 11, to understand what happened in Oklahoma City [1995 bombing] and what happened in many different events in our nation's history where we were victims of terrorism.

Liz Howell is another survivor of September 11. Her husband Brady died when a passenger jet slammed into the Pentagon.

"Americans are resilient, and we want to get through this," she said. "This is the perfect time because we can progress. Yet, if there is a monument, we can also remember and we can remember those heroes who gave their lives. So as we progress, we will never forget them."

Any memorial will no doubt pay homage to the more than 300 New York City firefighters who lost their lives at the World Trade Center on September 11th.

New York Firefighter Joe Finley was one of the lucky ones who survived. He says the memorial will help us to remember.

"The terrorists tried to steal our freedom," he said. "We can't let that happen. Those people who were killed that day and all the victims of terrorism, were killed because they were Americans. They died for our freedom. It is our sacred duty to remember them and honor them. There but for the grace of God go I. That memorial is for all of us that are here."

Among those pushing the proposal is Congressman Jim Turner, a Democrat from Texas. He says the memorial will also serve as an enduring monument to the international war on terrorism

"This memorial is going to reflect a point in time in American history that as we move further along will become even more apparent to us all as an era in which America stood tall," he said. "We persevered and we defeated an evil and we upheld freedom and democracy and dignity of life".

The National Mall is already crowded with memorials to presidents and other famous Americans. But Republican Congressman James Hansen of Utah says the terror victims memorial should be placed in a prominent place of honor.

"I really think this one has to go on the [National] Mall," he said. "This is something that is as big as anything we have looked at in my entire career and this one, as far as I am concerned, it goes on the Mall.

The proposal now before Congress would establish a commission to determine the design and location of the victims memorial.

But even supporters acknowledge that the process is likely to take years. A memorial to Americans who fought during the Second World War still has yet to be built, in part because of concerns that it will take up too much space on the National Mall. The design process for the World War II Memorial began in 1995, and the memorial's dedication is scheduled for 2004.