WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate has unanimously approved the House version of a measure Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) introduced that authorizes the development and construction of a national monument to fallen journalists. The privately funded memorial would be constructed on federal lands within the District of Columbia and would honor journalists, photographers, and broadcasters killed in the line of duty. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) is an original cosponsor of the Senate bill (S. 1969). Congresswoman Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.-32) and Congressman Tom Cole (R-Okla.-04) introduced the legislation (H.R. 3465) in the House of Representatives.
“A free press has fought for transparency and freedom since the founding of our republic. Those who personify the First Amendment rights granted to every citizen have made our nation stronger. Too many, including five innocent souls lost in the shooting at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, gave everything they had in defense of democracy,” said Senator Cardin. “This new memorial will honor the lives of those who died reporting the news and supporting the media on behalf of the American people. It will be a steadfast symbol of their sacrifice and the fragility of our democracy.”
“A free and open press is essential to our democracy, and I applaud the Senate for passing our bipartisan legislation to establish the National Memorial to Fallen Journalists, which is now headed to the President’s desk for signature,” said Senator Portman. “This memorial will serve as a fitting tribute to the men and women in journalism, including those from the Capital Gazette, who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of the First Amendment.”
This summer, on June 28, we commemorated the second anniversary of the shooting at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md. The tragedy left five employees dead – Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters – and two others wounded.
The legislation authorizes the Fallen Journalists Memorial (FJM) Foundation to establish a commemorative work (memorial) in the District of Columbia. Eligible federal land would be in “Area I” or “Area II,”, but not in the area designated as “Reserve.” The FJM Foundation must provide the funding necessary for the National Park Service or General Services Administration to maintain the memorial. The Annenberg Foundation and the Ferro Foundation have provided a total of $300,000 in initial funding to launch the FJM Foundation, which will operate under the auspices of the National Press Club Journalism Institute (NPCJI), the non-profit affiliate of the National Press Club.