November 11th marks Veterans Day in the United States. Originally established in 1926 as “Armistice Day” in order to celebrate the end of World War I, and honor those who fought in the conflict, the name was changed after subsequent wars such as World War II and the Korean War. In 1954, President Eisenhower signed a law that officially changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day, a national holiday to honor those Americans who have fought in any war. Although Veterans Day has also in modern time become associated with sales events in retail stores, its original role – to commemorate those who have sacrificed to defend the United States – still remains its fundamental role.
On the occasion when we reflect on those who have served in wars, it is also worth discussing the powerful memorials that also commemorate those wars. All of these are located in the Washington, D.C. area and would add to any historical trip to the nation’s capital.
Vietnam Memorial – Perhaps the most famous war memorial, officially called the “Vietnam Veterans Memorial,” this site receives around 3 million visitors each year. It is composed of three sections, which were completed at different times. The Memorial Wall, completed in 1982 houses the names of 58,195 Americans killed during the conflict, was designed by a student named Maya Lin, only 21 when her entry was chosen. The second section is the Three Soldiers statue, designed by Frederick Hart and completed in 1984. The final addition was the Women’s Memorial, designed by Glenda Goodacre and finished in 1993, which is dedicated to the nurses and other female service personnel who served during the Vietnam conflict.
National World War II Memorial – A relatively new memorial, dedicated to the veterans and civilians who served in World War II, this structure was unveiled in 2004. Located between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, the WWII Memorial contains 58 pillars, one for each U.S. state at the time of the war and the other American territories, such as Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands, that contributed to the war effort. In the middle is a plaza with a large pool and fountain. There are also two arches, each 43 feet high, at the ends of the plaza. One arch is dedicated to the Pacific phase of the war and the other to the Atlantic. The site receives over 4 million visitors each year.
Korean War Memorial – This memorial, finished in 1994, is located in the West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C. The structure features reflective walls that house over 2,000 photographic images from the war. There are also 19 statues of soldiers from all four branches of the military interspersed in the memorials. A short wall features a United Nations section that displays the names of all of the nations that contributed to the war. Finally, there is a Pool of Remembrance that lists pertinent statistics about the war, such as the 54, 246 Americans and 628,833 U.N. soldiers killed in action.
Arlington National Cemetery – The oldest of the memorials here, the national cemetery in Virginia was first established in 1864, following the American Civil War. There are buried soldiers from every American war in Arlington, including Afghanistan and Iraq. The site also houses a number of memorials, including the Tombs of the Unknowns (first called “The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier”), the Nurses Memorial and the eternal flame at the grave of President Kennedy. The Arlington National Cemetery Amphitheater frequently hosts state funerals and other war commemorations.
All of us at Silver Mine Gifts would like to thank all of our Veterans and their families who have served our country with honor and dignity, God Bless You.