national memorials and monuments

Happy Memorial Day! 

Today we celebrate those men and women who have bravely given their lives for our nation. A recent research expedition to Midway Atoll in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway and honored the legacy of the brave men who helped turn the tide in the Pacific during the battle. 

Scientists explored sunken aircraft associated with the battle, adding an important maritime heritage component to our understanding of the broader history of World War II in the Pacific. They also investigated the role shipwrecks and debris may play in harboring invasive species in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Here, diver Brian Hauk sets an invasive species quadrat on the stern of the USS Macaw

(Image courtesy of Brett Seymour, Exploring the Sunken Heritage of Midway Atoll expedition)

Memorial Day 1917: Rear Admiral Charles Sigsbee places a wreath on the USS Maine Memorial Monument

At Columbus Circle, New York, N.Y., 1917, Memorial Day exercises were held by the veterans of Foreign wars of the U.S. More than a hundred floral pieces were placed on the Maine Memorial monument. Rear Admiral Charles D. Sigsbee, who was in command of the Maine when the battleship was blown up placed two wreaths. More than 7,000 people gathered about the monument. Photo shows Rear Admiral Charles D. Sigsbee placing a wreath on the Maine Monument.

File Unit: Ceremonies - Liberations - Memorial Day, 1918, 1917 - 1918Series: American Unofficial Collection of World War I Photographs, 1917 - 1918Record Group 165: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs, 1860 - 1952

More on the sinking of the USS Maine

There’s no better place to be inspired by American history than the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, D.C. Walking among the historic buildings and statues, you can learn lessons from our greatest leaders and hear about the sacrifices of Americans in times of war. The Washington Monument serves as the centerpiece of the nation’s capital, rising over 555 feet tall and honoring the commanding general of the Revolutionary Army and the first President of the United States: George Washington. Photo courtesy of Drew Geraci.


On a quiet morning 75 years ago today, Imperial Japanese forces attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. More than 2,400 Americans were killed and 1,100 more wounded. Twenty-one ships of the Pacific Fleet were sunk or damaged, including the USS Arizona. Shocked and angered by the attack, the country joined the Allied forces to fight World War II, inspired by the call of “Remember Pearl Harbor.” A moving reminder of the service and sacrifice of those who fought, the USS Arizona Memorial is jointly administered by the U.S. Navy and the National Park Service. Photos from World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument by National Park Service.


The Battle of Vimy Ridge took place in April 1917, and was part of the Battle of Arras in Northern France.  Canadian troops fought against German Troops.  It was the first time that all four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force had fought as a single cohesive unit.

The Memorial at Vimy is a National Canadian Monument and serves to commemorate those Canadians who fell during the First World War and also those Canadians without a known grave.

The main element of the monument is Mother Canada mourning her dead.  She stands on the edge of the monument, looking over the once blood drenched fields on which so many Canadians fell.

A truly moving experience the first time it is visited, more so on subsequent visits.

I was on holiday in France, 2007 when I first saw the memorial at Vimy, it made such an impression on me, that on the journey back to the ferry, at the end of the holiday, we stopped again to photograph it.  It is unbelievably moving.  Like so many of the War Cemeteries and memorials within the Somme area of Northern France their very presence is to commemorate the fallen of a long, bloody and needless war.  Some of the memorials are beautiful, in total contrast to the very thing that they were built to commemorate.

About 3 hours drive south of Vimy, stands a little village graveyard.  You could quite easily drive past St Agnan Communal Cemetery and not know that it is there.  However, I know that it is there because it contains the grave of a relative.  Walter Alec Clarence Footman was killed on the night of ¾ May, 1944 in the lead up to ’D’ Day.  He was part of a large Lancaster bomber raid on a transport and communications centre.  Unfortunately he didn’t come back - he was 24.

So here we have two ends of the commemorative spectrum, a massive monument in honour of 11,000 Canadians who lost their lives in France, and a single grave to an airman of the second world war.  

One death is to many…

“Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind…“

Unveiling and Dedication of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial
King Edward VIII in Vimy, France - July 26th, 1936
Unveiling and Dedication of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial

On this day, 81 years ago, King Edward VIII unveiled and dedicated the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, in Vimy, France. The colossal monument, designed by architect Walter Seymour Allward, commemorates the many brave Canadians who fought alongside Britain, France and the US during World War I, notably at the deadly Vimy Ridge battle, saving a victory for the Allies at the cost of many, many lives in April 1917, over a century ago. It was one of the last official duties the King performed before abdicating, in December 1936.


Stopping over in D.C. for a long weekend in Mid October. Looking to probably stay in Alexandria. Where should I go, what should I see?

List so far:

National Portrait Gallery
Natural History Museum
Holocaust Memorial Museum
National Aquarium
Air & Space Museum
Monuments & Veterans Memorials

Would like to have a fancy dinner one of the nights. Eats? Drinks? Where’d you go?