Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A City Remembers

Veteran's Day is a busy time for Washington, DC. Former soldiers flock to the city's war memorials, Arlington National Cemetery and Veteran's Day events by the thousands, making this a great place to honor those who have served. My sister is in town to help me get resettled, but we took a break from moving duties yesterday and set out to see the sites. We checked out two of the most well-known war memorials in DC: the World War II Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Veterans of both were already out in full force.

If you haven't been to DC in a few years, you might have not yet seen the World War II Memorial. Located between the Washington Monument and the Reflecting Pool, this testament to an incredible war effort was just completed in 2004. Designed in a circular fashion, the memorial features pillars representing the states and U.S. territories, recognition of the Atlantic and Pacific war fronts, and quotes from FDR, Truman and other World War II figures. According to its official website, " the memorial honors the 16 million who served in the armed forces of the U. S. during World War II, the more than 400,000 who died, and the millions who supported the war effort from home." Many believe the memorial was long overdue, but while it might have taken too long to accomplish this project, its was worth the wait. The World War II Memorial is an awesome testament to the defining event of the 20th century.

Much like the war itself, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial has been shrouded in controversy. Many disliked and publicly criticized the memorial's design when it was unveiled in 1982. Nevertheless, it has become the gathering point for Vietnam Vets across the country. Visitors often leave items at the bast of the memorial, which is a black V-shaped wall engraved with the names of the war's dead and unaccounted for. It is not unusual to see flags, letters or personal items that once belonged to the soldiers left in their memory. Paper and pencils are provided for those who wish to make a rubbing of a soldier's name. Yesterday, the memorial was a buzz of activity as groups of veteran's explored the monument and payed respect to their fallen comrades.

If you're ever in town, whether it's Veterans Day or not, the war memorials will most definitely be on your to-do list. As sobering reminders of the sacrifices many in this country have made, they are at once touching and solemn sites to behold.


Fida said...

I find the Vietnam Memorial very powerful. Chilling photo with the shoes.

Tanya said...

Fida: I agree. It's such a simple memorial but it's incredibly moving.

Jenny said...

I know a lot of veterans, and this memorial is a great thing.