Although any memorial that properly honors the sacrifices of those who serve the nation is worthy of respect, some resonate with veterans more than others. Here are 7 that are popular because of what they represent and how they represent it:
1. Marine Corps War Memorial
The Marine Corps War Memorial may be one of the most recognizable war memorials in the U.S. It is modeled after an Associated Press photo taken of five Marines and a single sailor raising an American flag on Mount Suribachi in the Battle of Iwo Jima. The memorial honors all Marines who have given their lives in service to the nation.
2. USS Arizona Memorial
The USS Arizona Memorial remembers those service members lost during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. The memorial sits over the wreckage of the USS Arizona, one of the three battleships sunk during the attacks and never refloated. Survivors of the attack on the USS Arizona can request to have their ashes interred in the hull with their fallen brothers.
3. World War II Memorial
The World War II Memorial in D.C. was commissioned to remember the more than 16 million men and women who served in the American armed forces in World War II, including the 400,000 who died. It is not strictly an armed forces memorial though; it also pays homage to the efforts of those who remained on the home front.
4. Korean War Veterans Memorial
The Korean War Veterans Memorial features 19 sculptures of men on patrol with all branches represented. A wall of academy black granite runs by the statues and reflects their images, turning the 19 into a group of 38. The number 38 refers to the number of months America fought in the war and the 38th parallel where the war began and ended.
The juniper branches and granite strips on the ground symbolize the rice paddies of Korea and the billowing ponchos call back to the bitter weather on the Korean Peninsula. There is also a Pool of Remembrance, an honor roll, and a dedication stone. The stone reads:
Our nation honors her sons and daughters
who answered the call to defend a country
they never knew and a people they never met
5. Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall
“The Wall” is one of the simplest and most striking war memorials. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall lists the over 58,000 American casualties of the Vietnam War by name in the order which they died. The black granite reflects visitors’ faces as they read the names, encouraging reflection and contemplation.
Because many Vietnam vets felt The Wall wasn’t enough, another statue was added to the grounds in 1984. “The Three Soldiers” statue represents the soldiers and Marines who fought in the war and is positioned so that the three men depicted in the sculpture appear to gaze on the names inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.
6. Vietnam Veterans Memorial of San Antonio
The Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial of San Antonio depicts an actual scene witnessed by Austin Deuel, an artist and Marine Corps veteran of Vietnam. It shows a radio operator looking up for an incoming Medevac helo during fighting on Hill 881 South on Apr. 30, 1967.
The statue design was named “Hill 881 South” but was selected to show the compassion of one service member has for another in the heat of battle and honors all those who served in Vietnam, not just those on Hill 881.
7. Vietnam Women’s Memorial
About 11,000 American women were stationed in Vietnam during the war there, serving primarily as nurses but also in communications, intelligence, and other specialties. The Vietnam Women’s Memorial was created to honor their sacrifice and to promote understanding of their role in providing care and comfort for the wounded.
The memorial is colocated with “The Wall,” the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. The names of the military women who were killed in Vietnam are inscribed in the granite with those of their brothers-in-arms.