War memorials can be found all around the world where conflicts had to be resolved with the ultimate price — the sacrifice of human life. These monuments stand not to glorify war, but as places to remember the fallen.
In the United States, paying your respects at just one of these extremely special places is an experience that you will never forget. 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
This former estate of Confederate General Robert E. Lee was turned into a cemetery for Union soldiers at the height of the Civil War. It has since become the most prominent US 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
The USS Arizona Memorial honors the sailors and marines who died on board when the battleship was destroyed during the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, as well as all other Americans who died that day. The full tour 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
Valley Forge served as the Continental Army’s winter encampment during a very low point for the American forces during the winter of 1777-78, 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 disciplined 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
The nation’s capital has a number of memorials that can be easily accessed by foot. 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.
Brooklyn War Memorial – Brooklyn, New York
This 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, you can see the 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!