Brooks DuBose at The Capital Gazette:

President Donald Trump signed into law Wednesday a bipartisan bill authorizing a national monument to honor slain journalists, included the five people killed in the 2018 attack on the Capital Gazette newsroom.

The Fallen Journalists Memorial Actpassed by Congress on Dec. 2 — authorizes the Fallen Journalists Memorial Foundation to begin planning and raising funds for the memorial’s construction, which will be the first of its kind in the nation’s capital. The White House confirmed the bill’s signing.


The “real work” can now begin raising tens of millions of dollars for the project, said David Dreier, a former congressman who chairs the Fallen Journalists Memorial Foundation. The average time it takes to build a national monument is seven years, he said.


“I am very, very grateful,” Dreier said just minutes after hearing Trump signed the bill.


Dreier’s foundation announced plans for the memorial last year, near the one-year mark of the mass shooting at the Capital Gazette newsroom — the deadliest attack on journalists in American history. Five people — Gerald Fischman, John McNamara, Wendi Winters, Rebecca Smith and Rob Hiaasen — were killed by a man with a shotgun on June 28, 2018. Earlier this month, Winters was posthumously awarded the highest honor for civilian heroism in the U.S. and Canada by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission.

With the bill’s passage, it provides an opportunity to build a memorial not just for a single event, a war or an individual, but an idea, Dreier said.


“People who are struck down in the pursuit of the truth is something that cannot stand, and those who do lose their lives need to be memorialized,” Dreier said.


The bill was sponsored by U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and U.S. Reps. Grace Napolitano, D-California, and Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma.

This is an important moment and long overdue, Cardin said.


“It is a statement that we think is very, very important and obviously has a personal meaning here in Maryland because of the tragedy in Annapolis. So, to me, it’s a real statement for this nation,” Cardin said.


It is a chance to honor further the Capital Gazette victims and thousands of other journalists who have died doing their jobs, said Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland.


“A free and vibrant press is essential to the health of our democracy, and I will continue fighting to ensure our nation honors and respects this core principle,” he said.


The shooting inspired Dreier, a former chair of Tribune Publishing, to establish a memorial honoring the free press and commemorating those journalists who have died while doing their job. The Capital is owned by Tribune Publishing and is part of Baltimore Sun Media.


The Newseum, which closed permanently last year, had a memorial for journalists killed while doing their job, including those from the Capital Gazette. The City of Annapolis is planning a “Guardians of Free Speech” memorial in Newman Park that is expected to be unveiled in 2021, on the three-year commemoration of the mass shooting.


In addition, Trump signed a similar bill authorizing the construction of a women’s suffrage monument in the Washington D.C., also the first of its kind. Some, including Dreier, had been assured by White House aides the president would also sign the journalist memorial bill.

Those who wish to contribute to the Fallen Journalists Memorial Foundation can find more information at