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HomeNewsFallen Journalists Memorial on DC Federal Land Gets Congress Approval

Fallen Journalists Memorial on DC Federal Land Gets Congress Approval

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Congress has given the green light on Thursday to the construction of a national memorial on federal land in the District in honor of journalists killed in the line of duty.

The US Senate unanimously voted to pass the House’s version of the “Fallen Journalists Memorial Act,” two years after the brutal murder of five journalists in the newsroom of the Capital Gazette, in Annapolis, Maryland.

On June 28, 2018, a gunman stormed the Capital Gazette‘s office just after 2:30 pm, killing Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters.

Jarrod Ramos, a Maryland man, pleaded guilty to committing the massacre in October 2019. Ramos reportedly had lost a defamation lawsuit against the newspaper which reported on his guilty plea to harassing a former high school classmate.

The incident was the deadliest attack on journalism in the nation’s modern history, according to the Fallen Journalists Memorial Foundation (FJM Foundation), which has been working “to establish a commemorative work honoring the memory of all fallen journalists on federally owned and administered land in Washington, D.C.”

The Foundation issued a press release, thanking the US Senate for passing bipartisan legislation (H.R. 3465) to authorize it to build a national memorial “that honors reporters, editors, photographers and broadcasters who have lost their lives reporting the news.”

“On behalf of all journalists who put their lives on the line each day fulfilling their duty to deliver the news, I want to thank the Congressional sponsors for their support in shepherding the measure through the House and Senate,” FJM Foundation President Barbara Cochran was quoted as saying in the release.

“Once completed, this memorial will demonstrate to our citizens and visitors from around the world that our country values a free press, honors the sacrifices of journalists, and supports the family, friends and colleagues of the fallen,” she continued.

Sponsored by Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Representative Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) and Representative Tom Cole (R-OK), the legislation (the Fallen Journalists Memorial Act) passed the House of Representatives on September 21, 2020. It needs to be signed by the president.

“A free press has fought for transparency and freedom since the founding of our republic,” said Senator Cardin in a statement. “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. 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.”

Among the organizations that support the Act are the News Media Alliance, National Newspaper Association, National Association of Broadcasters, Military Reporters and Editors Association, National Federation of Press Women, Committee to Protect Journalists, Freedom Forum, News Leaders Association, and more.

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