A University of Montana memorial to soldiers lost in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars has been designated the state’s official memorial to those conflicts.
Governor Steve Bullock signed the bill Monday recognizing the memorial spearheaded by the group Grateful Nation Montana.
President David Bell says his group was founded in 2007 to provide tutoring and mentoring to the children of Montana soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The group also provides a full year college scholarship to those children. The idea for the memorial came afterward and the bronze statue of family members standing before a soldier’s boots, rifle and helmet was unveiled on the University of Montana campus in November of 2011. Bell says the statue provides a tangible symbol of the group’s commitment to the families of those killed in battle.
“This provides us an opportunity to stand there and reflect on the 42 names and their hometowns in Montana and their short lives and it gives us an opportunity as civilians to reflect upon the enormous sacrifice,” Bell said.
Governor Steve Bullock signed the bill recognizing the statue as the official Montana memorial to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars surrounded by state military and University leaders as well as veterans’ families. He says he’s happy to acknowledge the work of Grateful Nation Montana, including the memorial “and also placing it there, the recognition that contemporary days now, our Universities are supporting our fallen soldiers and the relationships. And it just made great sense and it’s exciting to see it done.”
The bill sponsored by Representative Champ Edmunds (R-Missoula) was unopposed in both the House and Senate.