Remembrance at Washington DC Memorials

Symbolism abounds at Washington DC memorials and monuments. They mark major events, memorialize leaders and honor individuals who have been forces of change in America and the world.

American Eagles in World War II Memorial Pavilion

World War II Memorial Pavilion, Washington D.C.

In remembrance of the men and women who have died in the service of the United States, we observe Memorial Day the last Monday in May. During my trip to Washington DC this past week, it seemed fitting to observe the upcoming holiday by visits to the World War II, Vietnam Veterans and Korean War Veterans memorials. I’d like to share these photos in honor of those who served in these past wars as well as those serving today for whom memorials have not yet been built.

Remembrance at Washington DC Memorials

World War II Memorial

This beautifully designed memorial is a moving tribute to those who fought in the Pacific and Atlantic theaters in World War II as well as those at home who supported the war effort. Two pavilions representing the Atlantic and Pacific theaters and 56 pillars for each state and U.S. territories are at either end of the memorial with a pool and fountain in the center.

World War II Memorial fountain

World War II Memorial Fountain

Gold Stars on Freedom Wall

Freedom Wall, World War II Memorial

On the Freedom Wall there are 4,048 gold stars, each representing 100 who died. The words engraved in front of the wall are “Here we mark the price of freedom”.

World War II Memorial Pillars and Washington Monument

World War II Memorial and Washington Monument

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

This was my first time at the Vietnam Memorial. I watched people touch the names of their friend or family member. Some traced the engraved name on a piece of paper. Others stood quietly in thought as they gazed at the 70 panels engraved with 58,261 names.

Visitors at Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall

Visitors at Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall

During the Vietnam War, the daily television news reported the updated death toll. All these years later, it’s an intense feeling to see the names of the American service people behind those numbers.

Names on Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall

Names on Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall

We found the name of my husband’s cousin who had died in Vietnam on this panel. I never knew him or the others whose names are shown here, but it would be hard not to feel emotional and reflect back on that terrible time in our history.

Three American Soldiers at Vietnam Memorial

Three Soldiers, Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Korean War Veterans Memorial

Korean War Veterans Memorial

Korean War Veterans Memorial

Just a short walk from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is the Koren War Veterans Memorial where these 19 stainless steel statues represent a squad of American troops on patrol in Korea in the early 1950s.

While there, I thought that it would have been nice to be able to walk among the soldiers, but perhaps that would have made it too overwhelming. I was fascinated by the expressions of determination, concentration and bravery etched on the faces of these statues.

Korean War Veterans Memorial

Korean War Veterans Memorial

Korean War Veterans Memorial and child

Korean War Veterans Memorial

The young boy walking behind the memorial makes me think about what the future holds for war and peace.

After we landed in Chicago on the first leg of our flight from Washington D.C. to San Francisco last night, a flight crew member asked us to acknowledge with applause the members of the armed services who were on board. I hope the message they got from that form of appreciation was — “Thank you for your service.”

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50 thoughts on “Remembrance at Washington DC Memorials

  1. Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista

    Great pictures Cathy! I love the Korean Ware memorial for how it looks like the soldiers are wandering through the woods. To me the Vietnam memorial is perhaps the most moving memorial I have ever seen! The first time I went I really didn’t want to go because I thought its just a wall of names. OMG was I wrong! It is heartbreaking to see people standing for hours staring at one name or seeing all the flowers laying on the ground. Extremely moving memorial!

    1. Cathy Post author

      Thanks, Debbie. At the Vietnam Memorial, you feel that each and every name is meaningful and for the family & friends, it must be very intense.

  2. Caanan @ No Vacation Required

    As you probably know from reading our blog, we are huge fans of these memorials. While the WWII memorial doesn’t resonate as deeply with us as, say, the Korean War Memorial (perhaps it’s too grand), we never tire of exploring these monuments.

    Speaking of honoring our soldiers, we wrote a post a while back about visiting Sector 60 in Arlington National Cemetery. Yesterday, we received a comment that broke our hearts and made us want to be even more mindful of the cost of freedom. Here is the link:

    Thanks for the great post!

    1. Cathy Post author

      Caanan, thanks so much for posting the link. I don’t know how I missed it before. I hope others will take a few minutes to read it, too.

  3. Lisa @ Gone with the Family

    A very appropriate tribute to the men and women who have given their lives in service to their country. I always get very emotional visiting memorials such as this but I think it’s important to do so and pay respects. I have only been to Washington once and we visited the Vietnam Memorial but not the others. Being Canadian, one wouldn’t think that it would have an emotional impact but I was overcome by the magnitude of the memorial and the thought that so many soldiers had died during the Vietnam conflict. As I watched visitors to the Memorial tracing names and leaving objects and notes behind, I couldn’t help but sob over the loss of so many. I felt a bit foolish because I felt certain that anyone who saw would have thought that I had lost my father or close relative in the war but seeing that wall and the names going on and on and on was more than I could bear.

    1. Cathy Post author

      Lisa, thank you for sharing your personal experience of visiting the Vietnam Memorial. It was very moving for me, as well.

  4. Steve

    We didn’t really explore any of these monuments while in D.C. (although I do hope you were doing sit-ups while taking your pictures of the WWII memorial) but I’m fairly sure they would be high on the list when we make a second visit. The Korean memorial in particular looks very interesting. Great pictures!

    1. Cathy Post author

      Thanks, Steve. Please do visit these sites. They’re really well done tributes. I think your kids would find them very interesting and educational, too.

    1. Cathy Post author

      It’s an amazing memorial. I’d like to see it again — as well as the other memorials. They’re each worthy of visiting more than once.

  5. Mary @ The World Is A Book

    What a fitting and wonderful post and tribute, Cathy! I’ve only visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. We visited it for the first time at dusk. The mood and lighting made it a much more emotional scene for some reason than visiting during the day. I still can’t forget people putting paper over the names and scratching them with pencils as imprints. The Korean War Veterans Memorial looks like a wonderful tribute. These memorials are one of the reasons I would love to visit DC again.

  6. Italian Notes

    I’ve been to Washington on Memorial Day and experienced a remarkable and sincere solemnity. One of the strongest memories is the near silence when thousands of motorbikes cruised through the city

  7. Leigh

    This is a beautiful post Cathy and a reminder of the horrors of war. I find the Korean monument to be the most interesting probably because it’s so life like.

    1. Cathy Post author

      Thanks, Leigh. I really appreciate memorials like these because it is so important for us to remember. The Korean memorial is so unusual — makes you try to imagine what it was like to actually be there.

  8. Jeff Titelius

    A very moving photo journey through these epic memorials my friend. I have never seen them up close like this and your photography captures them beautifully, especially the last one with the statue and little boy…what a moment you caught and without expressing a single word, the picture speaks a thousand words!

  9. Katrina

    The only time I visited DC I went in uniform. I was on my 10 days of boot leave in 2001. It was September. People at the Wall came up and thanked me for my service. The guards at the White House smiled at me. Couple of guys jogging past the Lincoln Memorial asked me how I did on my rifle qual at (sharpshooter). It was a pretty amazing introduction to our nation’s capital. A few days later I was checking in to MCT at Camp Lejeune. It was September 11th. Strange times, strange times indeed.

    1. Cathy Post author

      Thanks for sharing that story, Katrina. September 11 was so intense for us all, but I can only imagine what it was like to be in the armed forces and at Camp Lejeune during that time. Thank you for your service.

  10. Nancie

    Powerful photos, Cathy. Those statues at the Korean War Memorial gave me goosebumps.

    My Dad is a WWll Vet. He was in Europe for the entire war, and came home 🙂 He’ll be 90 next year, so you know were I’ll be next summer!

  11. Jenna

    I haven’t been to the WW2 memorial. It’s nice that you highlighted these’s so important for us to think about those young people who gave their lives.

    1. Cathy Post author

      It is important to remember those who have sacrificed so much, including their lives. Thanks for your comment, Jenna.

  12. Jools Stone

    I love the idea of tracing lost loved ones names on paper., moving stuff. The Korean one is really quite spooky and affecting too.

  13. Sabrina

    Great pictures! When I visited DC years ago, I really enjoyed walking around that area and taking in all the monuments. I was surprised how many different ones there were for different wars.

    1. Cathy Post author

      It’s always nice to see that there are special events taking place all over the country on Memorial Day in addition to the BBQs and holiday get-togethers.

  14. insideJourneys

    That first shot is beautiful, Cathy.
    I lived in Washington, DC and love going back. Each time we do the memorials, I come back feeling emotionally drained. The Korean War Memorial packs a wallop. It makes it so real. The beauty of the Vietnam War memorial is its simplicity — it’s like touching the soldier who’s remembered. The WW II Memorial is really stunning. It just stops you in your tracks.

    1. Cathy Post author

      You put it perfectly about feeling emotionally drained after visits to these memorials. About touching the wall at the Vietnam Memorial – I couldn’t agree more. The name etched on stone is something tangible that may offer some comfort.

  15. Lisa

    There are so many great monuments in Washington D.C. I have been there several times and still haven’t seen all of these! I would like to see the WW 2 memorial for memories of my grandpa.

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  17. Michael

    Washington, DC, is a place I’d like to spend more time in. My favourite monument is the Jefferson Memorial. I’d really like to go there during the Cherry Blossom Festival.

  18. Vera Marie Badertscher

    Gee, Cathy, it almost seems cheating to use Washington D.C. for the FRIFOTO symbols theme. It is PACKED! I particularly liked the Korean memorial. I have not seen it in person, and had not seen photos that captured it this well.

  19. Lindsay

    You have some beautiful shots of the memorials- especially the WWII with that upwards angle! Amazing! The Korean Memorial is beautifully haunting at night. Also, FDR is really nice, with all the fountains and art/sculptures.

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