Senator Boxer Testifies on Legislation to Designate Distinguished Flying Cross National Memorial in Riverside

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) testified today at a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks on her Distinguished Flying Cross National Memorial Act, which would designate the Distinguished Flying Cross Memorial at the March Field Air Museum in Riverside, California, as a national memorial to recognize members of our Armed Forces who have distinguished themselves by heroism in aerial flight.

You can view video of Senator Boxer’s testimony here.

The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Bill Nelson (D-FL). Representatives Ken Calvert (R-CA-42) and Mark Takano (D-CA-41) have introduced companion legislation in the House. The House overwhelmingly passed the measure in the previous two Congresses. Senator Boxer introduced the measure in both the 111th and 112th Congresses, but it has not been voted on by the Senate.

The memorial honors recipients of the military’s oldest aviation award, which is given to Americans who have performed acts of “heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight.” Since the Distinguished Flying Cross was established by Congress in 1926, tens of thousands of Americans have received the honor, including a number of American men and women serving our nation in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The legislation has the support of the Distinguished Flying Cross Society, the Military Officers Association of America, the Air Force Association, the Air Force Sergeants Association, the Association of Naval Aviation, the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association and the China Burma Indian Veterans Association.

The following are her remarks as prepared for delivery:

Chairman Udall, Senator Portman—thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today on S. 59, the Distinguished Flying Cross National Memorial Act.

I am so proud to have introduced this legislation with Senators Feinstein and Nelson.

Its purpose is very simple. It would designate the Distinguished Flying Cross Memorial at March Field Air Museum in Riverside, California, as a national memorial to recognize members of our Armed Forces who have distinguished themselves by heroism in aerial flight.

The Distinguished Flying Cross is America’s oldest military award for aviation and is awarded to service members and select civilians who perform acts of “heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight.”

But unfortunately, our nation lacks a national memorial to appropriately recognize these brave men and women.

March Field Air Museum is currently the only memorial in the country that honors recipients of the Distinguished Flying Cross. It was constructed entirely using private funds and was dedicated in October 2010. I brought a photograph of the memorial to show you.

My bill would simply designate this memorial as a national memorial in order to honor the bravery and sacrifice of the thousands of Americans who have received this prestigious award.

Let me reiterate—there is no other site in the country dedicated to these American heroes.

The legislation would not cost the government a single dime. The memorial would not be a unit of the National Park System and no Federal funds could be used for any purpose related to the memorial.

I am proud that this bill has wide support within the military and veterans communities.

It was developed in collaboration with the Distinguished Flying Cross Society—a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring recipients of the Distinguished Flying Cross—and has also been endorsed by the Military Officers Association of America, the Air Force Association, the Air Force Sergeants Association, the Association of Naval Aviation, the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association and the China Burma India Veterans Association.

The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed this bill in both the 111th and 112th Congresses.

It is time for the Senate to act. This would mean so much to the brave men and women who have served our nation with honor and distinction in flight.

I look forward to working with my colleagues to see this important bill enacted into law.

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