War memorials, the monuments and statues built to mark the sacrifice and significance of military service members, can be found all over the world. And while a war memorial references war, they are certainly not there to glorify it. Rather, a war memorial is a site where you can bow your head, and honor those remembered.
In the United States there are several and paying your respects at just one of these extremely special places is an experience that you will never forget. A time to reflect on the hardships endured by the nation’s heroes and to marvel at the beautiful presentation of sacrifice. To help you do just that, here are just some of the memorials honoring America’s fallen service members that you can visit.
Arlington National Cemetery – Arlington, Virginia
Originally the estate of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, the Federal government commandeered the land and turned it into a cemetery for Union soldiers at the height of the Civil War. It has since become the most prominent U.S. military cemetery in the world and serves as the resting place for over 400,000 soldiers, including the three unidentified remains of service members that are interred in the Tomb of the Unknowns.
The USS Arizona Memorial – Honolulu, Hawaii
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Hawaii, the USS Arizona Memorial not only honors the sailors and marines who died on board when the battleship was destroyed during the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 but also all other Americans who died that day. A full tour of the memorial lasts about 1 hour and 15 minutes and includes a short documentary and boat ride out to the memorial, which sits on top of the sunken ship (but not touching it).
National Memorial Arch – Valley Forge, Pennsylvania
From December 1777 to June 1778, Valley Forge served as the Continental Army’s winter encampment. It began as a low point for American forces during the Revolutionary War, with over 2,500 soldiers dying there from disease, starvation, and exposure to the elements. But it was also where the army, under the leadership of General George Washington, turned things around and became the military force that would eventually beat the British. Today, Valley Forge is a national park that preserves the history of the encampment. It is also home to the majestic Roman-architecture inspired arch dedicated “to the officers and private soldiers of the Continental Army.”
Washington D.C. Memorials
Nowhere else in the United States are there more memorials to fallen American services members than in the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. There are a few essential sites that visitors should make a point of seeing: the National World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans National Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. You can also visit less well-publicized memorials, including the African American Civil War Memorial, the Vietnam Women’s Memorial, and the Marine Corps War Memorial.
The Liberty Memorial/National WWI Museum and Memorial – Kansas City, Missouri
At the end of World War I, several prominent citizens in Kansas City gathered together to raise funds to build a memorial to honor the Americans that had died in the fighting. It opened in 1926, and in 2004 its accompanying museum was dedicated as the National World War I Museum and expanded. In 2014, the memorial itself was officially recognized as the National World War I Memorial.
National D-Day Memorial – Bedford, Virginia
Because the town of Bedford, Virginia suffered the largest percentage of casualties than any other community on D-Day, it was chosen as the site for America’s memorial for its service members that perished during the largest seaborne invasion in history (although it is dedicated to all members of the Allied forces that fought that day). Opened in 2001, the memorial features three plazas, each to symbolize different stages of D-Day: planning and preparation, the invasion itself, and victory.
Brooklyn War Memorial – Brooklyn, New York
This granite and limestone memorial in Brooklyn’s Cadman Plaza is dedicated to the more than 300,000 “heroic men and women of the borough of Brooklyn” who served in World War II. Inside are displayed approximately 11,500 names of Brooklyn service members who died during the war. The two larger-than-life-sized figures depict a male warrior on the left and a female with a child to the right and serve as symbols of victory and family.
Know of an American war/military memorial worth visiting that wasn’t included on our list? Let us know in the comments sections below!