There have always been memorials to wars and military leaders in Washington, DC. But until this week, none of them have been solely dedicated to those warriors who came home physically and mentally scarred from fighting for American freedom.
DC's newest memorial - The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial - was officially dedicated by President Barack Obama on Sunday and opened to the public one day later.
"With this memorial we commemorate, for the first time, the two battles our disabled have fought, the battle over there and the battle here at home," Obama said at the ceremonies.
Sixteen years in the making, the memorial, located across from the U.S. Botanical Gardens and within sight of the Capitol, is not only a tribute to our soldiers, but also to their loved ones and care givers.
The memorial incorporates many of the more familiar items of modern tribute. There is an eternal flame. There is a pool of water. There are walls of varying sizes. And there are a series of quotes from famed military and political leaders, as well as the words of soldiers and caregivers.
This quote from former U.S. General and President Dwight Eisenhower greets visitors as they enter the memorial space:
"Each of you bears upon the body the permanent scars of dangerous service; service rendered in order that our grand nation might continue to live according to the expressed will of our citizens."
The project was organized by two former Veteran Affairs Secretaries and philanthropist Lois Pope (the heir to the National Enquier fortune), who raised more than $80 million dollars to complete the project.
In 2012, there were 21.2 million military veterans living in the United States, according to a U.S. Census Bureau estimate. The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial foundation believes there are at least 4 million disabled veterans today.
However, that may be an underestimate. For, as one of the quotes on one of the walls points out: "In war, there are no unwounded soldiers."
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There's Always More to the Story
The long story behind the memorial. (from Wikipedia)
Why this memorial? (from NPR)
Personal Reflections (from AVDLM)