WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives today on a vote of 398-2, passed H.R. 588, the Vietnam Veterans Donor Acknowledgment Act of 2013 introduced by Alaskan Congressman Don Young earlier this year. The legislation passed today will allow for the acknowledgement of donor contributions inside the Education Center at the Wall of the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial. Before the bill was voted on, Congressman Young made the following floor speech in support of the bill:
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“Last year, Jan Scruggs, President of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) came to my office and told me about an absurd fundraising problem he had. He told me that in order to build a much-needed Education Center at the Vietnam Wall; he had to raise nearly $100 million of private money. Normally, this would not be a big problem. However, in this case, VVMF had to raise all of this $100 million without the ability to recognize their donors because current law did not allow donor recognition.
“Mr. Speaker, I think we can all agree that it is ridiculous to force any organization to fundraise without the ability to recognize donors. How are they supposed to raise any money? Even the National Parks Service understands the importance of donor recognition. I’ve personally seen hundreds of benches in National Parks all across this country that have little metal plaques on them thanking people for their generous donations.
“In spite of current law and this donor recognition handicap, VVMF has raised over 25 percent of the nearly $100 million needed to build this Education Center. My bill, H.R. 588, will give them the extra pulling power they need to quickly complete their fundraising and finally cross the $100 million finish line.
“Overall, my bill is very straightforward. It merely provides VVMF the ability to recognize their donors. This recognition will lead to larger donations, a faster fundraising pace, and the quick and timely construction of the Education Center. It will also make the act of giving more personal and much more rewarding. Put simply, every donor deserves a “thank you,” and my bill will finally allow VVMF to give the “thank you” their donors so rightly deserve.
“Also, in order to ensure that appropriate standards for donor recognition were met, I made sure that H.R. 588 dovetailed exactly with existing Parks Service guidelines. This regulatory overlap ensures that any donor recognition will be discreet, unobtrusive, and will not contain any advertising or company logos.”
Every year, millions of people from across the country visit the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial on the Washington Mall, and many of these visitors no longer fully understand the context and importance of the memorial. The Education Center at the Wall will tell interactive stories and pay tribute to American service members lost in the Vietnam War and will serve as a memorial for veterans returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, until they are able to get one of their own.