Honoring the Fallen at U.S. War Memorials

DC fireworks and the Iwo Jima Memorial
Driendl Group via Getty Images
  • 01 of 09

    Honoring the Fallen - War Memorials in the United States

    Korean War Memorial, Washington, DC
    Doug McKinlay / Getty

    Though they represent a grim time in history, a time when men and women risked their lives for their love of country, war memorials are popular tourist attractions. War memorials appeal to family members and friends who wish to commemorate their loved ones' service and sacrifice, as well as to those who wish to pay their respects to the fallen.

    On the following pages are details on the USA's national memorials to bygone wars. Memorials to the World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War are all located in Washington, DC, while Arlington Cemetery, the USA's national cemetery, is located across the Potomac River in Arlington, Virginia. Memorials erected to those soldiers who served in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, the Civil War, and other conflicts fought on U.S. soil are often found at the sites of their respective battlefields.

    For more information about U.S. War Memorials, visit American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC), which operates 25 battle memorials across the world but also maintains databases that list the soldiers who perished in battle and where they are buried.

  • 02 of 09

    Arlington National Cemetery

    Flickr user © _rockinfree

    To understand the full scope of military sacrifice, visit Arlington National Cemetery, located across the Potomac River from Washington, DC, in Arlington, Virginia. More than 300,000 are interred in the cemetery, including fallen soldiers from recent wars. Maintained by the National Park Service, Arlington National Cemetery is also home to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers. Read this detailed profile of Arlington National Cemetery for more information.

  • 03 of 09

    National Memorial Arch, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania

    Valley Forge Arch
    Valley Forge National Historical Park

    In the tradition of a Roman triumphal arch, the arch at Valley Forge National Historical Park commemorates the arrival of General George Washington and his Continental Army to Valley Forge during the Revolutionary War. Approximately 1.5 million visitors annually see Valley Forge and its arch, which was dedicated in 1917.

  • 04 of 09

    Liberty World War I Memorial, Kansas City, Missouri

    Liberty Memorial Kansas City, Missouri

    The Liberty Memorial, dedicated in 1926, was one of the earliest monuments erected to honor the soldiers who perished in World War I. A pillar of limestone, concrete, and steel rising 217 feet, the Liberty Memorial is now surrounded by the National World I Museum, the official musuem dedicated to the "Great War." The museum was opened to the public in 2006.

    Note: There is no national memorial to World War I in Washington, DC. In fact, the only World War I monument in the nation's capital is dedicated to soldiers from Washington, DC. The National World War I Memorial Foundation is currently raising funds and petitioning Congress to build a World War I memorial on the National Mall.

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  • 05 of 09

    National World War II Memorial

    National World War II Memorial in Washington, DC
    Getty Images

    The newest and largest of the war memorials in Washington, DC, is the National World War II Memorial, which was dedicated in 2004. Sitting on 7.4 acres at the end of the Reflecting Pool across from the Lincoln Memorial, the World War II Memorial features two triumphal arches (one representing the "Atlantic," the other "Pacific") and 56 granite columns inscribed with the names of the 48 states (from 1945) and eight U.S. territories. A large central fountain contributes to the bombast of the site. See more photos of the World War II Memorial.

  • 06 of 09

    World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, Hawaii

    U.S. Navy via Wikipedia

    December 7, 1941: "A date which will live in infamy." ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

    On December 7, 1941, Japanese forces bombed Pearl Harbor Naval Base in Hawaii, sinking four out of eight U.S. battleships stationed in the harbor, killing 2,402 Americans, and wounding 1,282. The surprise attack led the United States to declare war on Japan the following day.

    The USS Arizona was one of the four battleships sunk during the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, also known as the USS Arizona Memorial, is built atop the wreckage of the USS Arizona in commemoration of the site as a war grave. More than 70 years later, oil continues to leak out of the ship's watery hull.

  • 07 of 09

    Korean War Veterans National Memorial

    Korean War Veterans National Memorial

    Dedicated in 1995, the Korean War Veterans National Memorial is one of the least known memorials on the National Mall. Set on a triangle intersecting a circle and containing elements of marble, granite, and water, the memorial features stainless steel statues of 19 soldiers, whose faces and builds were based on thousands of archived photographed from the Korean conflict. When reflected in the placid pool, the 19 soldiers become 38, thereby symbolizing the 38th parallel, also known as the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea. The Korean War Memorial is particularly haunting at night when the soldiers' serious faces are lit from below.

  • 08 of 09

    Vietnam Veterans Memorial

    Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC
    Getty Images

    Solemn and simple, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial contains the names of every single soldier who died, went missing (MIA), or who were Prisoners of War (POWs) during the war in Vietnam. "The Wall," which is inscribed with more than 58,000 names, is one of the most visited memorials in the United States, with more than three million visitors annually. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for visitors who wish to pay their respects. Directories are located near both entrances to the V-shaped memorial so that visitors can find specific names of soldiers on the wall. Many visitors make etchings of the names and some leave behind flowers and mementos for the fallen.

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  • 09 of 09

    Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima Monument)

    USMC Memorial - "Iwo Jima Memorial"

    The United States Marine Corps Memorial, located near Arlington Cemetery, sets in bronze a photograph from 1945, in which five ​Marines and a sailor are shown raising a flag over Iwo Jima, Japan, following the Battle of Iwo Jima. Though the monument immortalizes a scene from World War II, the USMC Memorial is dedicated to "all personnel of the United States Marine Corps who have died in the defense of their country since 1775."

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