The moment you stand on the grounds of a war memorial, a window opens into a temporal world where past, present and future merge. Veteran war memorials provide a permanent record of past events and a present space of healing for survivors and families. They bridge young and aged generations and though time exists, its meaning wavers.
Journey with us through the south on our tour through the VFW’s Southern Conference states. Here, we will visit veteran war memorials to honor the brave Americans who served in them. Each place serves as an everlasting tribute. They are representations of how each soldier lived and how many of them died. Their service is their gift to us; honoring them at places such as these are our gifts to them.
“I want you to bring your children here, and your grandchildren. You tell them about these men and women that we honored here today. You tell your kids about how these veterans answered their nation’s call and left Texas to go to a far away land called Vietnam. Tell them how these veterans fulfilled their duty to their country. Your duty is to make sure it is Never Forgotten.”–Karoni Forrester
The Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument honors the men and women of Texas who fought in Vietnam. Featuring a scannable code on the monument’s plaque, the memorial serves as an online “Living Monument” that shares the stories of Texans affected by the Vietnam War, which are stored in an interactive map of the state. Additionally, Texas veterans, families, and civilians affected by the war contribute their photographs and stories to the archive. This truly brings the monument to life.
A virtual tour of the monument can also be taken that explains the historical context of the symbols found on the site while allowing visitors to hear first-person accounts. Visitors can learn about the 14-foot bronze sculpture of the infantry patrol, about each of the figures and scenes depicted across panels throughout the memorial, as well as the POW/MIA symbols on memorial benches. Visitors are educated on the 3417 memorial project, which is a special project and permanent memorial to the 3,417 Texans who never came home.
The National Museum of the Pacific War is a 6- acre, 3 museum campus that features both artifacts and exhibits, while also featuring an impressive reenactment of the Pacific combat zone. It is the only site in the continental United States dedicated to the story of the Pacific battles of World War II.
Start your day at the Museum by touring the George Bush Gallery and the Admiral Nimitz Museum. In the Bush Gallery, you are propelled to “the date which will live in infamy,” December 7, 1941. You come face to face with exhibits from the attack on Peal Harbor. The displays provide “high impact experiences” all centered around an HA-19, one of five Japanese subs in the attack.
Venturing on to the Nimitiz Museum, you’ll find the old Nimitz Steamboat Hotel, a Fredricksburg landmark since the 1880’s. Originally owned by Admiral Nimitz’s grandfather, the building has since been restored and now houses exhibits on the life and career of Admiral Nimitz, the Cailloux Education Center, and the Admiral Nimitz Grand Ballroom and Mezzanine.
While still on museum grounds, walk over to the Plaza of the Presidents. The outdoor exhibit pays tribute to the ten American presidents who served in the armed forces during WWII. Afterwards, visit the Memorial Courtyard. Here you are surrounded by plaques honoring heroic contributions to the war in the Pacific, and can watch a unique reenactment at the Pacific Combat Zone.
Your tour of the complex isn’t complete without stopping at the Japanese Garden of Peace. The garden itself was a gift from the military leaders of Japan to the people of the United States, in honor of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz. Built in Japan, it was disassembled then shipped to Fredericksburg, where it was reassembled by the same craftsmen who created it in Japan.
This huge war memorial pays homage to those involved in wars from the beginning of our nation to the most recent war on terrorism. The memorial contains notable sections about WWI, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War, and an “All Wars Memorial.”
“The mission of the Veterans War Memorial Foundation of Texas is to provide an educational, cultural, and historical facility to assist future generations, especially children, to learn about the sacrifices of those who died in the service of their country, the value of their legacy, and the important lessons which must be learned from those sacrifices.”
The East Tennessee Veterans Memorial displays the names of over 6,000 veterans from 35 East Tennessee counties who have died in military service since the beginning of World War I. Names are sorted by conflict and by county within each conflict. Blank space is provided for future names. Names of each of the 14 Medal of Honor recipients can also be found. Additionally, a bell tower stands 27-foot high and inscribed on each side of the tower are the Four Essential Freedoms spoken by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1941–freedom of speech and expression, freedom to worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.
Memphis National Cemetery is just 7 miles northeast of downtown Memphis. This is the final resting place for more than 40,000 veterans spanning over 125 years, from the Civil War to 1992. The Memphis National Cemetery has the second largest number of unknown soldiers of any national cemetery in the United States.
Though based on the image of the second flag raising on Iwo Jima during World War II, this memorial is dedicated to US Marines who died in all of America’s wars, as well as to their comrades in arms who fell beside them. The Marine Corp War Memorial features the largest bronze statue in the entire world: each of the six Marines raising the flag stand 32 feet high. Additionally, the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and the Capitol Building can all be seen from the War Memorial grounds. If you’re lucky enough to squeeze in a visit during the summer, you’ll be treated to the Sunset Parades held by the US Marine Corps on Tuesday evenings.
The National D-Day Memorial honors the Allied forces that took part in the invasion of Normandy during World War II. The Memorial itself is enshrined by the names of all 4,413 Allied soldiers who died in the invasion. This is the most complete list of its kind anywhere in the world.
The Kimball World War I Memorial is the first and only remaining memorial in the United States that honors African-American veterans of World War I. Designed in classical Greek style, the building houses an auditorium, a library, meeting rooms, and a trophy room dedicated to veterans. Perhaps of greatest interest is the “Forgotton Legacy” exhibit which examines the story of African-Americans who migrated from the South in the early 1900s to work in the coal mines and eventually serve in the US military during wartime.
This impressive artistic memorial shows four bronze statues: a WWI soldier, a sailor from WWII, a Korean War airman, and a Vietnam War marine. The names of West Virginians who sacrificed their lives in these conflicts are recorded on the granite walls inside. The artist P. Joseph Mullins designed this in 1995 and it is located in the State Capitol Complex.