The Wall


Roosevelt referring to his future memorial in 1941:

If any memorial is erected to me, I know exactly what I should like it to be. I should like it to consist of a block about the size of this (putting his hand on his desk) and placed in the center of that green plot in front of the Archives Building. I don’t care what it is made of, whether limestone or granite or whatnot, but I want it plain without any ornamentation, with the simple carving, “In Memory of __“.

On the twentieth anniversary of his death, on April 12, 1965, the small memorial as erected based on his description, on the location he requested as well.

Then they spent 9 years designing and 23 years funding and building the memorial he didn’t want. 

This memorial opened in 1997, the FDR Memorial was not a monolithic, white marble structure, but a flowing landscape architecture design. 

The memorial is designed as a timeline best experienced by starting at the northernmost end of the memorial. Bronze sculptures by several artists depict the longest-serving president and the major issues he dealt with during his presidency including the Great Depression, the New Deal, and World War II.

It is the largest Presidential memorial on the National Mall, covering 7.5 acres.

It is the only memorial to include a statue for a first lady.

This is also the only memorial to feature a presidential pet, FDR’s dog, Fala

It wasn’t until January 2001 that the life-size bronze statue of Roosevelt in a wheelchair was displayed at the memorial. Before that they tried to minimize the fact that he couldn’t stand on his own due to polio.

Because of Roosevelt’s disability, the memorial designers wanted to create an experience that would be accessible to all. The memorial includes an area written in braille for people who are blind, and the wide pathways are accessible for those who use wheelchairs. 

However, disability advocates say that the braille is incorrectly spaced and some is positioned at eight feet, too high for anyone to actually read. (The main problem is the size of the dots. The characters, or cells, they form are too big to fit under a fingertip.)

The Wall


  • Last of the war memorials to be built – first war chronologically
  • The Freedom Wall – 4,048 gold stars each representing 100 Americans (over 400,000 total) who gave their lives during the conflict. 
  • The Wisconsin Pillar is next to the Atlantic Memorial Arch.  
  • There are 2 “Kilroys” hidden behind the pillars
  • 56 pillars representing states, commonwealths and territories that fought in the war. Each has 2 wreaths, 1 oak leaf representing industrial power and 1 wheat wreath representing the agricultural power of the U.S.

The Wall


  • Sarcophagus at the top is the remains of an unidentified WWI soldier
  • 3 crypts in ground are WWII, Korea, Vietnam
  • Vietnam crypt now empty as remains were identified in 1998
  • Advances in DNA predict there will never be an unidentified soldier again

 Tomb Guards – 3rd Infantry Regiment

  • Tomb guards have been on duty every minute of every day since 1937
  • Training is rigorous and takes about 9 months to complete. Most volunteer soldiers that begin do not finish
  • Tomb Guard identification badges are awarded to soldiers who complete training. It is the second least awarded badge in the Army. The badge can be revoked if the guard behaves in a way that dishonors the tomb either while active duty or as a civilian.
  • There have been 6 female sentinels and they must meet all the same requirements as the men to qualify
  • Listen for the scrape – done to honor veterans in attendance. 
  • Guards take 21 steps in their walk, pause for 21 seconds and repeat. This is the highest honor in military service eluding to the 21 gun salute.
  • It takes a sentinel about 8 hours to prep their uniform for a work day
  • Guards are divided into 3 reliefs based on height. Guards are 5’8” – 6’4”.
  • Guards do not wear their rank on their uniform to avoid the possibility of outranking the soldiers they are guarding.
  • Guards are changed every 30 min from April – September and every hour after that
The Wall


King’s memorial is the first to honor an African American individual on the National Mall. The space is a place to contemplate Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy: a non-violent philosophy striving for freedom, justice, and equality.

  • Main Theme: Out of the Mountain of Despair, a Stone of Hope
  • Visitors figuratively “pass through” the Mountain of Despair on the way to the Stone of Hope, symbolically “moving through the struggle as Dr. King did during his life.”
  • Fourteen quotes from his speeches can be found on the Inscription Wall.
  • Location: 1964 Independence Avenue – referencing the year the Civil Rights Act became law.
  • Located on a straight line from the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial where he gave the “I have a Dream” speech to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial who penned the Declaration of Independence.
  • This is to reinforce the connection between these three leaders at three important moments for civil rights in our nation’s history: from the promise that “all men are created equal,” to the freeing of the slaves, to the final push for full and equal rights.
  • The MLK Memorial came about thanks in large part to the efforts of the fraternity that MLK belonged to, Alpha Phi Alpha.
  • Nature is an important part of the memorial’s design. The cherry trees are positioned to bloom in a particular spot, so as to cause the effect of Martin Luther King Jr. gazing upon them. The trees bloom every year during the anniversary of King’s death.

The Wall


The Memorial Wall

  • The design for the memorial was determined through a nationwide competition. 1,400 submissions received!
  • Of the 1,400+ submissions, Yale architecture student Maya Lin’s design was chosen by the committee.
  • The Memorial Wall was dedicated on Veterans Day of 1982.
  • 70 separate panels make up each of the walls of the ‘v’ shape.
  • One end of the memorial wall points toward the Washington Monument, while the other points to the Lincoln Memorial.
  • The two 200-feet-long walls contain more than 58,000 names.
  • The names are listed in chronological order by date of their casualty and begin and end at the origin point, or center, of the memorial where the two walls meet.
  • Having the names begin and end at the center is meant to form a circle – a completion to the war.
  • By including the names of all those who were killed or missing in action, the memorial conveys just how overwhelming the casualties were during this war.
  • Visitors can see a reflection of themselves in the names on the black granite walls, connecting the living to those lost.

The Three Serviceman Statue

  • The statue was unveiled on Veterans Day of 1984.
  • It honors those who fought and returned from the war by showing them standing, keeping watch over the wall.
  • Artist Frederick Hart used patina to give the bronze statue some color variations.
  • The servicemen depicted in the sculpture stand seven feet tall upon a base that is one foot tall.
  • The three figures represent a Hispanic man, an African American man, and a Caucasian man – ethic groups that were heavily represented in the war’s combat forces.

Vietnam Women’s Memorial Statue

  • The statue was unveiled on Veterans Day of 1984.
  • It honors those who fought and returned from the war by showing them standing, keeping watch over the wall.
  • Artist Frederick Hart used patina to give the bronze statue some color variations.
  • The servicemen depicted in the sculpture stand seven feet tall upon a base that is one foot tall.
  • The three figures represent a Hispanic man, an African American man, and a Caucasian man – ethic groups that were heavily represented in the war’s combat forces

In Memory Plaque

  • On Veterans Day of 2004, the In Memory plaque was added to the memorial site.
  • It is located at the northeast corner of the memorial plaza surrounding The Three Servicemen statue.
  • It is meant to recognize the soldiers whose life was cut short as a result of their service in the war, but whose names were not eligible for inscription on the Memorial Wall.
  • The causes of death that were attributed to their service in Vietnam included PTSD-related illness, Hodgkin’s and Parkinson’s, exposure to chemicals such as Agent Orange, and cancer.
The Wall


War Nick Name – The Forgotten War   (1950-1953)

In October 2016, President Barack Obama signed into law legislation authorizing the establishment of a Wall of Remembrance to be incorporated into the existing Korean War Veterans Memorial that currently resides on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The Wall of Remembrance will become the permanent home to the names of over 36,000 American servicemen and 7,100 Korean Augmentation to the United States Army (KATUSA) who gave their lives defending the people of South Korea. Of these, 8,200 are listed as missing in action or lost or buried at sea. In addition, 103,284 were wounded during the conflict

Through the generous donations of the American and Korean people, the necessary funding for the construction costs of the Wall of Remembrance has been raised. The construction and refurbishment project began on March 15, 2021. The Wall of Remembrance Dedication Ceremony is scheduled for July 27, 2022.



  • 19, 7 Foot tall stainless statues represent the ethnic cross section of America
  • Junipers and polished granite between statues represent walking through rice paddies
  • Ponchos worn to cover equipment

    Mural Wall

    • Creator of the burial worked in conjunction with sculptor and architect to create a two-dimensional work of art to compliment the three dimensional statues.
    • Consists of 41 panels extending 164 feet and utilized over 2,400 photos from the the National Archives for inspiration.
    • The reflective quality of the Academy Black Granite creates the image of a total of 38 statues, symbolic of the 38th Parallel and the 38 months of the war. When viewed from afar, it also creates the appearance of the mountain ranges of Korea.

      Pool of Remembrance

      • Freedom Is Not Free and Alcove
      • Cost of the conflict is listed in terms of KIA (Killed in Action) WIA (Wounded in Action) and POW (Prisoners of War).

      United Nations Wall

      • Left of the mural wall, the walkway is marked with the 22 nations that contributed troops to the United Nations efforts
      The Wall



      • Land belonged to George Washington Parke Custis, grandson of Martha Washington.
      • Custis willed property to daughter Mary Anna Randolf Custis, who married Robert E Lee.
      • The Lees lived in the mansion on the hill in Arlington until the start of the Civil War.
      • During the Civil War, federal troops occupied the property as camp and headquarters


      • Freedman’s Village established on the estate as a way to assist slaves transitioning to freedom
      • ALmost 4000 former slaves are buried here.
      • The village lasted until 1900 and was a thriving community with schools, hospitals, churches and social services
      • Forcibly disbanded to make room for burial plots


      • First burial in 1864
      • Over 400,000 active duty service members and their families
      • 482 Confederate soldiers
      • Currently there are about 30 burials each day


      • 2 Presidents including  Howard Taft and JFK
      • 14 Supreme Court Justices 
      • Audie Murphy – most decorated WWII veteran 
      • Mast of USS Maine
      • 19 Astronauts
      • Memorial to space shuttle Challenger with cremated remains of all 7 space shuttle astronauts
      • Memorial to space shuttle Columbia 
      • Monument to US Vietnam helicopter pilots and crew members

      Stars and Stripes Honor Flight, Inc.

      Stars and Stripes Honor Flight, Inc. honors veterans with a life-changing trip to Washington, D.C. to visit the memorials and experience a day of honor and thanks.

      Dr. Ted O'Reilly

      Dr. Ted O'Reilly