National Veterans Memorial and Museum Act
STATEMENT OF ROBERT VOGEL, ACTING DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SENATE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, CONCERNING S. 841, TO DESIGNATE THE NATIONAL VETERANS MEMORIAL AND MUSEUM IN COLUMBUS, OHIO.
July 19, 2017
Chairman Daines, Ranking Member Hirono, and members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to present the Department of the Interior’s views on S. 841, a bill to designate the Veterans Memorial and Museum in Columbus, Ohio as the National Veterans Memorial and Museum.
The Department of the Interior (Department) defers to the Department of Veterans Affairs for a position on S. 841 since the purpose of the legislation is to confer a title on a memorial and museum designed to honor veterans. The memorial is located at a site that is not under the jurisdiction of the Department, and this bill does not provide for any management or funding by the National Park Service.
The Columbus Downtown Development Corporation broke ground on the Veterans Memorial and Museum in December 2015. It is being built with support from the State of Ohio, Franklin County, and private individuals, foundations, and corporations. The museum will become the only one of its kind that exists for the exclusive purpose of interpreting the collective experience of veterans of the United States across all eras, conflicts, and branches of the military. It is expected to open in the summer of 2018.
We are concerned that this legislation proposes the use of the title “national” which could create an expectation among the general public that the memorial and museum has an affiliation with the National Park Service, or at least some connection to the Federal government. This is not the first time the issue of a “national” designation for a non-federal entity has arisen, nor is it likely to be the last. The Department respectfully encourages the committee to be thoughtful and judicious in any decision as to whether an entity that has no association with the Federal government should have a “national” title conferred by Congress.
Chairman Daines, this concludes my statement. I would be pleased to answer questions you or other members of the subcommittee may have.