Veterans Day occurs on November 11 every year in the United States in honor of the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918 that signaled the end of World War I, known as Armistice Day. In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially changed the name of the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.
Veterans Day is a time for us to pay our respects to those who have served, and for one day, we stand united in respect for our veterans. While there are a lot of ways to celebrate and honor our veterans, we find that learning about their service, sacrifices, and struggles is the best way of honoring them. By simply remembering our history, we give their sacrifice purpose and meaning, making sure that we don’t take our freedom for granted. Here are some of the most hallowed ground in the US where we can learn more about our veterans.
On December 7, 1941, at approximately 7:55 AM, Japan launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. For nearly two hours, more than 350 Japanese aircraft dropped bombs on U.S. vessels. At approximately 8:10 AM, the USS Arizona was hit by Japanese torpedo bombers that dropped armor-piercing bombs during the attack. The impact caused munitions and fuels to ignite, creating a massive explosion that reportedly lifted the battleship out of the water. As it sank, the ship was struck by more bombs. While 334 crew members survived, the death toll on the USS Arizona was 1,177.
After Arizona sank, its superstructure and main armament were salvaged and reused to support the war effort, leaving its hull, two gun turrets and the remains of more than 1,000 crewmen submerged in less than 40 feet of water.
The wreck of Arizona remains at Pearl Harbor to commemorate the men of her crew lost that December morning in 1941. On May 30, 1962, the USS Arizona Memorial was officially dedicated. The white concrete and 184 feet long steel structure straddle but do not touch the ship's hull.
The USS Arizona Memorial is a must-see destination for all individuals coming to Hawaii, drawing more than 1.7 million visitors each year from all over the world. Visitors are free to explore the grounds of the $65 million Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, which was expanded from the original 3 to 17 acres, in December of 2011.
In December 1920, New York Congressman and World War I veteran Hamilton Fish Jr. proposed legislation that provided for the interment of one unknown American soldier at a special tomb to be built in Arlington National Cemetery. The purpose of the legislation was “to bring home the body of an unknown American warrior who in himself represents no section, creed, or race in the late war and who typifies, moreover, the soul of America and the supreme sacrifice of her heroic dead.” On November 11, 1921, the unknown soldier brought back from France was interred below a three-level marble tomb.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a monument dedicated to deceased U.S. service members whose remains have not been identified. It’s considered the most hallowed grave at Arlington Cemetery, America’s most sacred military cemetery. Located on a hill on high ground at almost the perfect geographic center of the cemetery, the tomb exemplifies valor and honor by remembering those who died committing brave and selfless acts with no one to bear witness to them.
The National Museum of the Marine Corps is a lasting tribute to U.S. Marines. It's situated on a 135-acre site adjacent to Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, and under the command of Marine Corps University. The Museum's soaring design evokes the image of the flag raisers of Iwo Jima and beckons visitors to this 120,000 square-foot structure. The museum replaces both the Marine Corps Historical Center in the Washington Navy Yard, which closed on July 1, 2005, and the Marine Corps Air-Ground Museum in Quantico, Virginia, which closed on November 15, 2002.
World-class interactive exhibits using the most innovative technology surround visitors with irreplaceable artifacts and immerse them in the sights and sounds of Marines in action. Visitors learn about the history of the Marines by starting in the Leatherneck Gallery with hanging aircraft from the ceiling and tanks in the lobby. They can immerse themselves in the first interactive exhibit that simulates the intensity of boot camp. Visitors can also test their rifle skills with a laser-designated target acquisition M-16 at the rifle range. They'll feel the ground shake as they land on Iwo-Jima on D-Day in 1945 or brave the cold elements in the winter battlefield room depicting the Korean War.
Located on the northwest corner of National Mall and Memorial Parks, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is an exceptional national park site that stands as a symbol of America’s honor and recognition of the men and women who served and sacrificed their lives in the Vietnam War. Within the site, visitors have the opportunity to honor the names of the fallen who are inscribed on the Memorial Wall, visit the Three Servicemen Statue, look upon the Vietnam Women’s Memorial statue, and reflect at the In-Memory plaque.
The names of more than 58,000 men and women who gave their lives or remain missing are inscribed on the black granite walls. It's dedicated to honoring the courage, sacrifice, and devotion to duty and country of all who answered the call to serve during one of the most divisive wars in U.S. history.
Just south of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall is the Vietnam Women’s Memorial, which commemorates the 265,000 women that served in the Vietnam War, many of whom worked as nurses. The 2,000-pound bronze structure stands 15 feet tall and depicts three women attending to a wounded soldier, reflecting the unity required during the conflict.
The Three Soldiers, also known as The Three Servicemen, is a bronze statue that's another moving reminder of the disparate groups that had to come together during the Vietnam War. Each of the three soldiers stands seven feet tall, situated on top of a one-foot granite base, and are arranged as if to show the three soldiers gazing upon the memorial wall at the names of their fellow comrades.
Located 50 miles northwest of Baltimore, the small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania was the site of the largest battle ever waged during the American Civil War. The Battle of Gettysburg was a turning point in the Civil War, the Union victory in the summer of 1863 that ended General Robert E. Lee’s second and most ambitious invasion of the North.
The Battle of Gettysburg has probably been more intensively studied and analyzed than any other battle in U.S. history. It’s also the bloodiest single battle of the war, resulting in over 51,000 soldiers killed, wounded, captured, or missing. To properly bury the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg, a "Soldiers Cemetery" was established on the battleground near the center of the Union line.
During the dedication ceremony on November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln spoke of "these honored dead..." and renewed the Union cause to reunite the war-torn nation with his most famous speech, the "Gettysburg Address." The cemetery contains more than 7,000 interments including over 3,500 from the Civil War.
Many of the park's 43,000 American Civil War artifacts are displayed in the Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center. It provides exclusive resources and experiences to introduce you to the Battle of Gettysburg and prepare you for a tour of the battlefield.
Cradled in the stone of the Window Rock is the Navajo Nation's ultimate tribute to all the brave warriors, past and present, who served this land to protect the ways of the Navajo people. The Navajo Veterans Memorial was established in 1995. It's at the base of Window Rock to honor the many Navajos who served in the U.S. military. Many Navajo soldiers are recognized in the annals of history for their role as Code Talkers, whereby they used the native Diné language to create a code that was never broken by the enemy. Historians credit the Navajo Code Talkers for helping to win World War II.
The Window Rock Tribal Park features a line of sandstone cliffs that reach up 200 feet. Known as Ni' Alnii' gi (center of the world) to the Navajo for centuries, Window Rock was established as the capital of the Navajo Nation in 1936.
The memorial park has many symbolic structures. There's a statue of a Navajo Code Talker with his 32-pound radio on his back, a circular path outlining the four cardinal directions, 16 angled steel pillars with a sign filled with names of war veterans, and a healing sanctuary that is used for reflection and solitude that features a fountain made of sandstone.
Soon after World War I ended, Kansas City leaders formed the Liberty Memorial Association to create a lasting monument to the men and women who had served in the war. In 1919, the LMA and citizens of Kansas City raised more than $2.5 million in just 10 days. The equivalent of more than $35 million today, this staggering accomplishment reflected the passion of public sentiment for the Great War that had dramatically changed the world. Throughout the years, the Liberty Memorial proved to be a dynamic addition to Kansas City’s cultural offerings. Over time, however, the physical structure of the Liberty Memorial deteriorated, and it was closed in 1994 due to safety concerns.
Once again, Kansas Citians voiced their support for the Liberty Memorial and, in 1998, they passed a limited-run sales tax to support the restoration. More than $102 million was raised for the restoration and expansion. In 2004, the Museum and Memorial were designated by Congress as the nation's official World War I Museum, and construction started on a new 80,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art museum and the Edward Jones Research Center underneath the Liberty Memorial. In 2014, the Museum and Memorial received a second designation from Congress, effectively recognizing it as the National WWI Museum and Memorial.