Memorial for fallen journalists will be built on the National Mall

A location in D.C. has been selected for a new memorial dedicated to fallen journalists.

The Fallen Journalists Memorial Foundation said Monday that the memorial is going on a triangle of land at the corner of 3rd Street SW and Independence Avenue, where it’s bounded by Maryland Avenue SW. That puts the memorial on the National Mall facing the U.S. Capitol.

The memorial, nearly four years in the making, was authorized in late December during the most recent federal appropriations process.

“It is a physical reminder of the sacrifice involved in the First Amendment,” said Rick Hutzell, the former editor of the Capital Gazette newspaper.

Hutzell and others who were devastated by the 2018 shooting in their newsroom have played advocacy roles in the creation of the memorial.

“Local news organizations are shrinking or disappearing, and I think a physical reminder of its importance to our society is needed and called for,” Hutzell said.

From here, the foundation will begin working to solicit design proposals for the memorial. One thing is certain, however, the names of fallen journalists will not appear on it.

“That was a condition of getting approval from the National Park Service because, sadly, the number of journalists killed increases every year,” said Barbara Cochran, president of the foundation. “That would mean you would have to continually add to the memorial, which is both a problem for the design and also a problem in terms of the expensive maintenance.”

Summerleigh Geimer, whose mother, Wendi Winters, was among the Capital Gazette journalists killed in 2018, said the location is what means the most to her.

“It’s going to be incredibly accessible for people to come see,” Geimer said. “It’s going to be in the capital of the United States of America. I think that sends a very strong message.”

Her hope is that the memorial will be visited on field trips and will “continue the conversation in a really beautiful way.”

“It’s pretty dangerous to be a journalist these days,” said Andrea Chamblee, whose husband, John McNamara also worked for the Capital Gazette. “Your job is in jeopardy. And now your life is in jeopardy. And our insight into what makes our very republic work and not work is in jeopardy without journalism.”

Chamblee and Geimer both also acknowledged the difficulty in getting stricter gun laws passed, with Chamblee in particular calling for “a ban on weapons of war.”

This won’t be the first memorial for fallen journalists. Referring to the one in London, Hutzell said “we’re not unique in cherishing the value of a free press, of a vibrant free press.”

But he also stated, “We are in many ways the most important symbol of it, so it is fitting that a place in our nation’s capital. And a sacred place, you know, the National Mall, has space for this.”

The foundation is chaired by former U.S. Rep. David Dreier, who was also a past chairman of the Tribune Publishing Company, which used to own the Capital Gazette. Hutzell credits him with spearheading this project.

“The irony is not lost on me that this is within sight of the seats of power,” Hutzell said. “That’s what journalism does. It watches those who wield the power.”

Cochran, the foundation’s president, said the goal is to have the memorial finished by 2028.

Below is the memorial’s future location.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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