Most of the monuments you will find in Washington, D.C. are dedicated to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the name of defending the U.S. The names etched into the Vietnam Veterans Wall and the stars noting the death toll on the Freedom Wall at the National World War II Memorial are somber reminders that not all came back in war time. But what about the soldiers who survived?
For many, returning back home is difficult after bearing the physical and/or emotional scars that wartime may leave. To honor the daily sacrifices of those whose tours are complete but struggles live on, a new monument is set to debut in October 2014.
A rendering of the completed American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial — Photo courtesy of Disabled Veterans' LIFE Memorial
The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial will offer tourists and veteran a two-acre, triangular meditative place to try to comprehend what these soldiers go through every day. Trees are placed throughout the site, along with granite and glass walls. But the centerpiece is a five-point star fountain that features, at the center of the star, a ceremonial flame set to represent the elemental forces of injury, loss and renewal. The star emerges out of the water to symbolize the hope that comes from perseverance in the face of adversity, with the water trickling into a large reflecting pool.
In 1997, philanthropist Lois Pope joined with U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jesse Brown and National Adjutant for Disabled American Veterans Art Wilson to create a foundation to raise enough money to honor living war heroes. Actor Gary Sinise - who famously played Vietnam War veteran Lt. Dan Taylor in the Oscar-winning film Forrest Gump - became a spokesman for the group, which broke ground on the site in 2010. With a view of the U.S. Capitol, the memorial will be located by Independence Avenue and adjacent to the National Mall.
The dedication ceremony, which is free and open to the public, is set for 11 a.m. on Oct. 5, 2014. There will be no assigned general seating, so get there early. Expect politicians and veterans from every conflict to be present during the ceremony.
This new D.C. memorial will be a welcome addition to downtown and a reminder that courage isn't just for the battlefield.