War memorials honor a time when men and women risked their lives for their love of country, and are popular tourist attractions. They appeal to family members and friends who wish to commemorate their loved ones' service and sacrifice, as well as to those who want to pay their respects to the fallen.
The United States (U.S.) national memorials to World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War are all located in Washington, DC, while Arlington National Cemetery (the U.S. national cemetery) is located across the Potomac River in Arlington, Virginia.
Memorials erected to those soldiers who served in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, or 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 the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC). It operates 25 battle memorials across the world. ABMC also maintains databases that list the soldiers who perished in battle and where they are buried.
Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia
To understand the full scope of military sacrifice, visit Arlington National Cemetery, located in Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, DC.
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.
Valley Forge National Memorial Arch, Pennsylvania
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. The arch was dedicated in 1917.
Liberty World War I Memorial, Missouri
The Liberty Memorial, dedicated in 1926, was one of the earliest monuments erected to honor the soldiers who perished in World War I. The monument is a pillar of limestone, concrete, and steel rising 217 feet.
The Liberty Memorial is now surrounded by the National World War I Museum, the official museum dedicated to the "Great War." The museum opened to the public in 2006.
There is a national memorial planned for Pershing Park, Washington, DC in honor of World War I. The National World War I Memorial Foundation is raising funds for the project.
National World War II Memorial, Washington, DC
The newest and largest of the war memorials in Washington, DC, is the National World War II Memorial, which was dedicated in 2004.
The World War II Memorial features two triumphal arches: one representing the "Atlantic" and the other "Pacific." There are 56 granite columns inscribed with the names of the 48 states (from 1945) and eight U.S. territories.
A large central fountain astatically contributes to the memorial that is located on 7.4 acres at the end of the Reflecting Pool across from the Lincoln Memorial.
World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, Hawaii
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. The bombing sank four out of eight U.S. battleships stationed in the harbor. It killed 2,402 Americans and wounded 1,282. The surprise attack led the U.S. 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.
Korean War Veterans National Memorial, Washington, DC
Dedicated in 1995, the Korean War Veterans National Memorial is one of the least known memorials on the National Mall. It is 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 photographs 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.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, DC
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 U.S., with more than three million visitors annually. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is open 24 hours a day, seven 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.
Marine Corps War Memorial, Virginia
The U.S. Marine Corps Memorial, located near Arlington Cemetery, sets in bronze a photograph from 1945. It depicts five Marines and a sailor raising a flag over Iwo Jima, Japan, following the Battle of Iwo Jima. The memorial is also known as Iwo Jima Monument.
Though the monument immortalizes a scene from World War II, the USMC Memorial is dedicated to "all personnel of the U.S. Marine Corps who have died in defense of their country since 1775."