By The (Annapolis, Md.) Capital
There are memorials dedicated to war and to peace. There are memorials to presidents and poets.
Memorials are one way we as a society say: this is worth remembering. This person or event is significant in the definition of who we are as a community, as a nation and as a people.
Two memorials are now planned to honor journalists who died in the pursuit of their profession, the pursuit of truth. Both are noble ideas that deserve public support.
Journalism and the Freedom of the Press that make it possible are vital to our national character. It is vital to the success of our community and our democracy.
Wednesday morning in Washington, Tribune Publishing Chairman David Dreier formally launched an effort he announced Sunday on these pages: the creation of a Fallen Journalists Memorial on or near the National Mall.
Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio and Rep. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, and Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-California, introduced legislation Tuesday that authorizes The Fallen Journalists Memorial Foundation to begin work on the memorial.
Dreier, a former Republican congressman from California, was inspired by the Capital Gazette shooting on June 28. The Capital is owned by Tribune Publishing.
His announcement comes just as attention is focused again on this tragedy. Friday is the one-year anniversary of the shooting that killed Gerald Fischman, Wendi Winters, Rebecca Smith, Rob Hiaasen and John McNamara.
It will not be an easy task. Federal legislation has to be passed before work on the memorial can begin. Once that happens it could take seven years to fund, plan and build the memorial. It also will take millions of dollars of private funding. No taxpayer money will be used in the project.
Fundraising for the project has already begun alongside initial funding from the Annenberg Foundation and the Michael and Jackie Ferro Foundation. Michael Ferro is the former chairman of Tribune Publishing.
This comes just days after a much smaller effort has made significant gains in Annapolis. Anne Arundel County and Annapolis have publicly thrown their support behind a Press Freedom Memorial planned at Newman Park near City Dock.
Annapolis has donated the site, and Anne Arundel County has agreed to help fund the project. It’s not clear yet how much will be contributed, but the cost is expected to be about $300,000.
Capital Gazette, the Baltimore Sun and Tribune have not been the driving force behind this plan. It is the work of longtime civil rights columnist Carl Snowden and the organization he leads, the Caucus of African American Leaders.
It is important to note that both of these memorials are nonpartisan efforts and come at a time when journalism and journalists are under attack around the world.
This community knows the importance of a free press. They demonstrated it on July Fourth when they lined Main Street in Annapolis to support the survivors of the June 28 attack.
And they continue to show it by following our work covering the place we share.
These memorials will make sure the world knows it too.