In what may be the most unique tribute to our veterans in the history of our nation, next year will see the unveiling of a memorial specifically dedicated to those veterans who have been disabled for life in service to their country.
Perhaps unbelievably, for the first time ever, a memorial will be opened up to pay tribute to those vets who have sacrificed their bodies or health in national service. The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial will show homage to those three-million-plus vets who return home from battle unable to resume normal lives due to the sacrifices they have made to defend our country and freedom.
The memorial, built at a cost of $81.5 million dollars, will feature 48 displays. Located on 2.4 acres across from the U.S. Botanic Garden, the tribute’s centerpiece is a star-shaped reflecting pool with each point representing one of our service branches. Water will flow over the sides of the pool into a larger, triangular-shaped pool to represent the sky, time of day, and seasons.
The reflection within the pool will be the U.S. Capitol, and the surface of the pool will be broken only by a ceremonial eternal flame. Beside the pool, a grove of trees will provide cooling shade along the main paths lined by the glass-and-granite walls. The memorial will be adjacent to the National Mall and within full view of the Capitol building.
Using a juxtaposition of granite and glass, the monument will convey the strength and vulnerability exemplified in the veterans to whom the memorial pays tribute.
In an address at the 2013 Disabled American Veterans national convention, President Obama praised the memorial, saying, “That memorial will honor your courage in war. But it will also pay tribute to your bravery in the other battle you have fought–the fight to recover from the wounds of war. And this may be your greatest triumph of all. Because rather than being defined by what you lost, by what you can’t do, you’ve inspired America with what you can do.”
The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial has been a very long time in coming and spans three presidencies. Funding for the memorial was established during the Clinton era in 1998 through a foundation set up by Florida philanthropist Lois Pope.
The memorial was unanimously authorized by Congress in 2000, with the site being approved in 2001, the first year of President George W. Bush’s term in office, and final design approval achieved in 2009 and 2010, the term of current President Obama, by the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts and the National Capital Planning Commission, respectively. Groundbreaking for the memorial took place in November of 2010. In the photo, you’ll see actor and activist, Gary Sinese (center), who is the Memorial’s national spokesperson.
Interestingly enough, the memorial will not feature the names of disabled veterans on its walls. The reason for this, according to project executive Barry Owenby, is that, with over 3 million permanently disabled veterans, there simply is not enough room on the walls to inscribe all of the names.
Watch the inspiring video that shows the design and helped raise the funding to build the memorial, which is scheduled to open October 12, 2014. Please tell us about the disabled American veteran in your life who deserves this honor.