washington dc war memorials memorial day

If you’re looking to pay tribute to America’s heroes this Memorial Day, Washington, DC, is the place to be. The nation’s capital is home to numerous memorials that honor the brave men and women who served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Whether you are visiting for the first time or returning to reflect, these sites offer a meaningful way to commemorate the day.


National World War II Memorial

Located on the National Mall, the National World War II Memorial is a powerful tribute to the 16 million people who served in the American armed forces during the war. The memorial features 56 pillars representing states and territories, a beautiful fountain, and a wall of 4,048 gold stars, each representing 100 American military deaths.


Korean War Veterans Memorial

Just south of the Lincoln Memorial, you’ll find the Korean War Veterans Memorial. This site features 19 stainless steel statues representing a squad on patrol, evoking the harsh conditions American troops face. The adjacent Pool of Remembrance lists the names of those who were killed, wounded, or went missing during the war.


Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, also on the National Mall, is renowned for its reflective black granite wall inscribed with the names of over 58,000 servicemen and women who died or went missing in action. Nearby, the Three Servicemen Statue and the Vietnam Women’s Memorial offer additional reflection points.


The World War I Memorial

The World War I Memorial is one of the newer additions to D.C.’s memorials. It honors the service of over four million Americans who fought during the Great War. It is located near the White House and includes the iconic American Expeditionary Forces Memorial sculpture.


Pentagon Memorial

The Pentagon Memorial is dedicated to the 184 victims of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon. Each victim is commemorated with a cantilevered bench, and the memorial’s design is poignant and serene.


U.S. Navy Memorial

Located on Pennsylvania Avenue, the U.S. Navy Memorial honors those who have served in the Navy. It features a large granite map of the world and a lone sailor statue, symbolizing the Navy’s global presence.

(AF Memorial)

Air Force Memorial

The Air Force Memorial in Arlington features three soaring spires representing the Thunderbirds’ bomb burst maneuver. It’s a striking tribute to the men and women who have served in the U.S. Air Force.


African American Civil War Memorial

This memorial honors the over 200,000 African American soldiers and sailors who fought for the Union during the Civil War. The Spirit of Freedom sculpture and the Wall of Honor are central features.


National Native American Veterans Memorial

The National Native American Veterans Memorial, located at the National Museum of the American Indian, honors Native Americans who have served in the U.S. military. Its striking design incorporates elements of native culture and symbolism.


American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial

The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial is a testament to the courage and sacrifices of disabled veterans. It is located near the U.S. Capitol and features etched glass panels, a star-shaped fountain, and a flame that symbolizes their resilience. The memorial’s design and location offer a serene place for reflection.


D.C. War Memorial

The D.C. War Memorial honors the 499 residents of the District of Columbia who lost their lives in World War I. This often-overlooked memorial is located in a grove of trees on the National Mall and features a domed marble structure. It’s a peaceful and less crowded site, offering a quiet place for contemplation.


Grand Army of the Republic Memorial

The Grand Army of the Republic Memorial is dedicated to the Union Army veterans of the Civil War. Located near the Capitol, this bronze statue of a Union soldier honors the Grand Army of the Republic members, a fraternal organization composed of Union veterans.


First Infantry Division Monument

The First Infantry Division Monument is located near the White House and honors the service of the “Big Red One,” the U.S. Army’s First Infantry Division. The monument features a statue of Victory and commemorates the division’s service in various conflicts, including World War I, World War II, Vietnam, and more recent engagements.


US Marine Corps War Memorial

Also known as the Iwo Jima Memorial, the US Marine Corps War Memorial is one of the most iconic military monuments in the country. It is located near Arlington National Cemetery and depicts the famous photograph of Marines raising the American flag on Iwo Jima during World War II. This memorial honors all Marines who have given their lives in service to the United States since 1775.


Military Women’s Memorial

The Military Women’s Memorial, located at the entrance of Arlington National Cemetery, honors the contributions of women in the military. The memorial includes exhibits, a theater, and a register of servicewomen, highlighting their vital roles in the armed forces throughout history.


Daughters of the American Revolution Founders Memorial

The Daughters of the American Revolution Founders Memorial, located near Constitution Hall, honors the women who founded the DAR. The memorial features a statue and commemorates their efforts in promoting historic preservation, education, and patriotism.


Nuns of the Battlefield Civil War Nurses Monument

The Nuns of the Battlefield Civil War Nurses Monument, located near St. Matthew’s Cathedral, honors the Catholic nuns who served as nurses during the Civil War. The bronze relief depicts the nuns aiding wounded soldiers, highlighting their compassionate service during the conflict.

National Guard Memorial Museum – NGEF

National Guard Memorial Museum

The National Guard Memorial Museum is dedicated to the history and heritage of the National Guard. Located near Capitol Hill, the museum offers exhibits highlighting the contributions of the National Guard from its inception in 1636 to present-day operations. The museum includes artifacts, interactive displays, and educational programs that provide insight into the National Guard’s role in American history.


Memorial Amphitheater and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The Memorial Amphitheater and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier are in Arlington National Cemetery. The Amphitheater hosts significant ceremonies, including Memorial Day and Veterans Day services, attended by the President or Vice President of the United States. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a solemn and revered site, dedicated to unidentified U.S. service members who died in combat. The tomb is guarded 24/7 by the Tomb Guard, an elite unit from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, also known as “The Old Guard.” The changing of the guard ceremony is a moving and respectful tribute that visitors can observe daily.

Memorial Day Events

These memorials host special events on Memorial Day, including wreath-laying ceremonies and guided tours. The National Park Service (NPS) website has more information on event schedules and visiting guidelines.

Visiting these memorials on Memorial Day is a poignant way to honor and remember the sacrifices of America’s military heroes. Each site offers a unique perspective on the history and contributions of those who served. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, explore these tributes and reflect on their significance.