There’s a memorial missing in our nation’s capital. But you can help change that.
Last year, on June 28, 2018, five journalists at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, were shot and killed by a man who had been the subject of a news report in its pages years before.
Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters were their names. Their shooter, 38-year-old Jarrod Warren Ramos, was indicted on 23 counts stemming from the shooting, including murder, attempted murder, assault and other charges. He finally pleaded guilty last month, on Oct. 28.
The five newspaper employees were just doing their jobs when they were slain. Fischman was an editorial page editor. Hiaasen was an assistant editor who had celebrated his 33rd wedding anniversary the week before. McNamara had been a reporter there for more than 20 years. Smith was a sales assistant, just 34 years old. Winters was an editor and community reporter who left four kids behind.
The Capital Gazette shooting was the deadliest attack on journalists in U.S. history. However, it’s not uncommon for news reporters to face danger because of what they do. Sometimes, they must run toward it.
Reporters from Ernie Pyle to Daniel Pearl have died while covering war and conflict. Others, like Jamal Khashoggi and Anna Politskaya, have also lost their lives because their work angered those in power.
We often build monuments to honor people who have sacrifice their lives to protect our freedoms, and rightly so. Washington, D.C., has many such memorials, yet none stands in memory of journalists who have made that sacrifice.
It’s time to put one up.
On the anniversary this spring of the Capital Gazette shooting, a bipartisan group of representatives and senators introduced legislation in Congress that would allow for a memorial for fallen U.S. journalists.
If enacted into law, Senate Bill 1969/House Resolution 3465, "The Fallen Journalists Memorial Act of 2019," would allow the Fallen Journalists Memorial Foundation to raise private funds to build a memorial on federal land in Washington, D.C.
The memorial would honor American journalists who have laid down their lives while working to deliver the news. It won’t use any taxpayer funds, but even so, it can’t be built without Congress’s authorization. That’s where you come in.
We need the help of newspaper readers and others who value the role that journalists play in keeping our government accountable to its citizens. We encourage you to contact Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Clarendon, and Republican Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz to ask that they cosponsor the Fallen Journalists Memorial Act of 2019. Contact information for their regional offices is listed below, or you can call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 to speak with their Washington staff.
We hope you tell them this memorial would demonstrate to Americans — and to visitors from around the world — that our country values a free press and honors journalists who have paid the ultimate sacrifice while doing their jobs.