Memorial Day weekend is a chance for family and friends to kick of the start of summer with picnics, BBQ's and the season's first swim. For many it is also the time to pause and remember those who have given their lives to serve our country in peacetime and at war.
Our family and friends do a combination of both. There is the contest to see who will be the first one to brave the cold water in the swimming pool, fire up the grill for a meal and make a visit to Arlington Cemetery to honor a husband and father. Like thousands of other families across the country we are proud to have the opportunity to enjoy the freedoms that come with living in America even if it came with personal sacrifice.
Iwo Jima Memorial/Marine Corps War Memorial
The Marine Corps War Memorial stands as a symbol to the events of February 23, 1945 when US Marines raised the flag on Mount Suribachi. The flag raising captured by US photographer Joe Rosenthal became a Pulitzer Prize winning photograph. When the picture was released, Felix de Weldon on duty with the Navy constructed a scale model and then a life size model which was later cast in bronze. The memorial was dedicated by President Eisenhower on November 10, 1954.
This is one of the rare memorials to DC residents. It honors those who served in "the war to end all wars" -- World War I. It is a small marble band shell, often overlooked by visitors to Potomac Park. Inscribed on the frieze of the band shell are the insignia of the armed forces.
Honoring the 16 million men and women, 400,000 who died and the millions who supported the troops from home the WWII memorial is the latest memorial built on the National Mall. Composed of fifty-six granite pillars representing each state, territory and DC connected by a bronze rope. Also incorporated in the design is the Freedom Wall incorporating 4000 commemorative gold stars, one for each 100 Americans who gave their lives for freedom.
Korean War Memorial
In 1955 the The Korean War Veterans was dedicated in 1995 to honor the 1.5 million American men and women who served in the Korean War. The memorial is made up of 19 stainless steel statues representing all branches of the armed services who were involved in the war.
Vietnam Veteran Memorial
Known simply as "the wall" the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was built in 1982 through private donations and despite some of the original controversy surrounding the design the memorial has since become one of the most amazing memorials to visit in DC. The black granite walls are engraved with the names of 58,195 servicemen killed or MIA during the Vietnam War. In 1993 a woman's memorial bronze statue was added to the site to honor the women who died during the war as well.
Tomb of the Unknowns/Arlington National Cemetery
In Arlington National Cemetery on a high vantage point overlooking the Potomac River the Tomb of the Unknowns (formal name) is a place where most visitors stop to honor American soldiers who gave their lives in WWI, WWII and the Korean War in defense of the US. The tomb no longer contains the remains of a soldier from the Vietnam war as the remains were identified and it was decided to leave that space empty in the crypt.
Air Force Memorial
Dedicated on October 14, 2006 the Air Force Memorial is a prominent feature just across the road from the Pentagon and can be seen by anyone driving into DC. Featuring three 270 foot stainless steel spires designed to represent the flying spirit of the Air Force. The three spires also represent the Air Force's total force - active, guard and reserves. Embedded in granite beneath the three spires is the star that is seen on Air Force planes.
The Naval Memorial services to functions both as a memorial and as a heritage center. Located between two building is a round plaza paved in granite to form a 100-foot diameter of the world. Surrounding the plaza are fountains, pools, flagpole masts, and panels depicting historic events of the Navy. A symbolic statue of a Lone Sailor stands watch near the edge of the plaza.