ABC News’ Arlette Saenz Reports:
One day before the country celebrates Veteran’s Day, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi broke ground on the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial at a ceremony with hundreds of disabled and able-bodied veterans in Washington, D.C.
“In the name of all veterans, past, present and future, we break ground today to ensure that time does not dim the glory of their deeds,” Pelosi said. Pelosi shared a story about her uncle, Johnny D’Alesandrio, who died in the Battle of the Bulge, saying her father mourned his death every day and took pride in the sacrifice his brother made for the country.
“As we approach Veteran’s Day, we re-affirm our commitment to the patriotism, the courage and service of all men and women in uniform, whether they’re in the theater of battle or wherever they serve our country,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi applauded the bi-partisan effort in Congress to extend benefits to American veterans but also pointed out certain areas that still need to be tackled, such as ensuring veteran’s health does not become privatized.
Bobby Barrera, a Marine Corps veteran, who lost his right hand and left arm while serving in Vietnam and who serves as chairman of the Board of Directors of the Disabled American Veterans, spoke at the ceremony about the importance of recognizing the sacrifices made by America’s veterans.
“By honoring these men and women, this memorial will be a solemn declaration that America is forever grateful to her disabled veterans,” Barrera said. “A declaration that America will never forget their service and will never forget their continued sacrifice.”
Pelosi and Barrera were joined by Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki and actor Gary Sinise, who serves as the national spokesperson for the memorial. Gary Sinise is best remembered in the veteran community for his portrayal of Lieutenant Dan Taylor in the movie Forrest Gump.
Upon completion in 2012, the memorial will be located 1000 feet from the Capitol and across from the U.S. Botanic Garden on a 2.4 acre site. The memorial will be the only permanent public tribute to America’s disabled veterans.