December 03, 2020

Van Hollen Joins Cardin, Portman in Lauding Senate Passage of Legislation to Construct National Memorial to Fallen Journalists

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) joined Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) in lauding the Senate’s passage of legislation to authorize 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 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.

“On June 28, 2018, we lost the lives of five incredible men and women – Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith, and Wendi Winters. These individuals will never be forgotten by Marylanders, but with this memorial we can further honor them – and the thousands of journalists across our country and around the globe who have lost their lives in their line of duty — bringing us the facts and reporting the news,” said Senator Van Hollen. “A free and vibrant press is essential to the health of our democracy, and I will continue fighting to ensure our nation honors and respects this core principle.”

“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.