The first ever memorial dedicated to the Air Force in the United States’ capital, Washington, the United States Air Force Memorial stands tall overlooking the Pentagon, the Potomac River and Washington DC. Situated in Arlington, Virginia, the memorial is erected on Fort Myer near the Arlington National Cemetery, at the crossroads of Columbia Pike and South Joyce Street. The memorial is dedicated to the several men and women who served and sacrificed their lives in the United States Air Force and its predecessor organizations, such as the Aeronautical Division, U.S. Signal Corps; the Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps; the Division of Military Aeronautics, Secretary of War; the Army Air Service; the U.S. Army Air Corps; and the U.S. Army Air Forces. The structure and design of the memorial signifies the fighting and spirit of the air force. Browse on further to find more interesting and fun facts about this gigantic and striking memorial.
Location: Near Arlington, Virginia
Built in: 14 October 2006
Built by: James Ingo Freed (Pei Cobb Freed & Partners)
Historical importance: Stands in the honor of the services and sacrifices by the United States Air Force personnel and its predecessors.
Interesting & Fun Facts About US Air Force Memorial
- The US Air Force Memorial honors the 54,000 airmen who died while serving in the US Air Force and other historical service arms of the military.
- The memorial has been designed by internationally acclaimed architect James Ingo Freed, one of America’s finest designers, who also designed the famous US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC.
- The spires went under construction in February 2006 and were completed in the next seven months. Thereafter, the memorial was dedicated to the deceased servicemen on October 14, 2006 with as many as 30,000 spectators attending the ceremony.
- The memorial comprises of three stainless steel spires, ranging from 201 feet to 270 feet, soaring up the sky representing the true flight and flying spirit of the Air Force.
- The three spires that constitute the memorial signify the three core values of the Air Force: integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all that is done. They also represent the Air Force’s total force - active, guard and reserve.
- These three spires, dispersing in a “bomb burst” maneuver, represent the contrails of the Air Force Thunderbirds.
- The Air Force “star”, embedded in granite, lies beneath the three spires as the rank insignia of every enlisted member of the Air Force.
- To the south of the memorial, four 8-foot bronze statues of the memorial’s Honor Guard stand tall. These statues were sculpted by the renowned figurative sculptor, Zenos Frudakis.
- Two inscription walls, 56 feet long 10 feet high and 1 foot tall, stand at each end of the central lawn. Made from polished, high-reflective monolithic Jet Mist granite, both the walls have a 2.5 inch outer inscription panel made from Absolute Black Granite.
- While the north wall denotes the names of Air Force recipients of the Medal of Honor, the south wall has high inspirational quotes on core values.
- Interestingly, the arcs of the spires appear different depending upon the viewer’s location, weather, season and time of the day.
- The spires are illuminated from beneath in the night giving the tips even a more brilliant appearance.
- The construction of the Air Force Memorial was funded mainly by private aids.
- The memorial was unveiled on 14 October 2006 in the presence of 30, 000 people who attended the event. President George W. Bush delivered the keynote speech and the official ceremony was held the next day. The ceremony began when Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynne laid a wreath for the fallen airmen, the first one, beneath the spires.
- A number of events take place here, including the concerts by the United States Air Force Band. Some others include the wreath-laying ceremonials for military holidays like Veterans' and Memorial Days, promotion and retirement ceremonies and also weddings.
- The memorial attracts more than 200,000 visitors throughout the year.
- The Timpview High School Marching Band was the first non-military group to perform at the memorial.