Greater Good | GWOT – The Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation
I have always considered it a blessing to have been mentored and raised by veterans. My grandfathers both served in the Army during World War II as did several of my uncles, and my father served in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive. Heck, my great grandfather helped fight against Pancho Villa’s raids in a small town called Columbus, New Mexico, where I trace my roots. These men were not only my mentors but my heroes as well. I joined the U.S. Army at 17, eventually serving as a Special Forces Green Beret sniper and medic. I was medically retired for wounds received in combat after 21 years, and the mother of my children retired after 21 years of service in the Army as a combat medic. We are immensely proud that our eldest son is currently serving as an infantryman in the 82nd Airborne Division. We have deployed 16 times for this great nation of ours, but our story is not unique, there are countless families just like mine.
I am humbled to continue my service as president and CEO of the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation (GWOT), an organization committed to building the National GWOT Memorial in our nation’s capital to commemorate and honor the members of the Armed Forces who served in support of our nation’s longest war, especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Consistent with its mission, the Foundation will recognize and salute the service and sacrifices of all who served in defense of the nation in this conflict, as well as their families and friends.
We have American patriots fighting terrorism in a multitude of ways, and we are still losing lives, in and out of uniform. This year alone, I lost three friends who were serving as government contractors. This speaks to the complexities of this conflict, and we have a duty to honor all those whom have served. Through the construction of this memorial we truly will honor, heal, empower, and unite our entire nation.
The World War II Memorial serves as a place of healing and unification for the Greatest Generation—I only wish my grandfathers would have been able to visit it before their passing. The same is true of the Vietnam Memorial and my father’s generation.
Nearly 18 years after the attacks on September 11th, 2001, we are still engaged in a war to diminish terrorist operations globally. We rightfully honored those like my father and grandfathers through memorials on the National Mall; it is now upon us to provide the same level of honor and respect the current generation so truly deserves.
I have a profound respect for all who have served, and this respect extends to the spouses, children, and family members who have supported their loved ones from afar. I can honestly share with you all that the most difficult deployments for me were not the nine that I participated in but those where my loved ones did. The multi-generational component to this conflict is unlike any our country has faced. We understand the hardships this war puts on those who are directly and indirectly affected.
The Foundation has made remarkable progress as we embark on our capital campaign to raise $50 million. We’re honored to have a personal friend of mine serve as our honorary chairman, a gentleman and true servant leader from Texas by the name of President George W. Bush. As the president and CEO, I am confident that with the continued help and support of American patriots like yourselves, we will achieve mission success.
Michael “Rod” Rodriguez
President and Chief Executive Officer
GWOT Memorial Foundation