Visiting Monuments On Memorial Day

In this part of the country Memorial Day marks the unofficial start to summer, with neighborhood pools opening and grills being fired up for the first time since winter. But we also take time to remember and honor those who lost their lives serving our country.

Marine Corps War Memorial
One of the most iconic monuments in the D.C. area is the Iwo Jima Memorial, which actually is located in Virginia, just across the Potomac River from the Lincoln Memorial, which you can see in the background.

Its official name is the Marine Corps War Memorial, but it depicts the taking of the island of Iwo Jima during World Word II. This is how the National Park Service website explains it:

The tiny island of Iwo Jima lies 660 miles south of Tokyo. Mount Suribachi, an extinct volcano that forms the narrow southern tip of the island, rises 550 feet to dominate the ocean around it. US troops had recaptured most of the other islands in the Pacific Ocean that the Japanese had taken in 1941 and 1942. In 1945 Iwo Jima became a primary objective in American plans to bring the Pacific campaign to a successful conclusion.

On the morning of February 19, 1945, the 4th and 5th Marine Divisions invaded Iwo Jima after an ineffective 72-hour bombardment. The 28th Regiment of the 5th Division, was ordered to capture Mount Suribachi. They reached the base of the mountain on the afternoon of February 21 and, by nightfall the next day, had almost completely surrounded it. On the morning of February 23, Marines of Company E, 2nd Battalion, started the tortuous climb up the rough terrain to the top. At about 10:30 am men all over the island were thrilled by the sight of a small American flag flying from atop Mount Suribachi. That afternoon, when the slopes were clear of enemy resistance, a second, larger flag was raised by five Marines and a Navy hospital corpsman: Sgt. Michael Strank, Cpl. Harlon H. Block, Pfc. Franklin R. Sousley, Pfc. Rene A. Gagnon, Pfc. Ira Hayes, and PhM. 2/c John H. Bradley, USN.

Not just a monument to that event, the memorial is inscribed to honor all marines.

In honor and in memory of the men of the United States Marine Corps who have given their lives to their country since November 10, 1775.

A less well-known monument is the Navy and Merchant Marine Memorial, also located on the Virginia side of the Potomac River.

Navy Merchant Marine Memorial
I’ve always admired the beauty of the sculpture–seven gulls soaring over a cresting wave–and didn’t realize it was a monument until we ventured up to it on a recent bike ride and saw this inscription.

To the strong souls ready valor of those men of the United States who in the Navy & Merchant Marine and other paths of activity upon the waters of the world have given life or still offer it in the performance of heroic deeds this monument is dedicated by a grateful people.

Of course, nothing is more moving than visiting Arlington National Cemetery. 

Arlington National Cemetery


Every time I see those grave markers stretching across the rolling hills, my heart swells with gratitude and sadness for all those who gave their lives so that we can enjoy the freedoms and rights we have as citizens of the United States of America. 

Even though Memorial Day is for remembering those who gave their lives, I’d like to share this prayer from the Book of Common Prayer “For those in the Armed Forces of our Country”:

Almighty God, we commend to your gracious care and keeping all the men and women of our armed forces at home and abroad. Defend them day by day with your heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trials and temptations; give them courage to face the perils which beset them; and grant them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

How are you observing Memorial Day?

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11 Responses to Visiting Monuments On Memorial Day

  1. Beautiful pics and a nice reminder to us all to be thankful for those that have served.
    Deborah Brooks @ Confessions of a Mother Runner recently posted…Chipotle Slaw with Siracha BroccoliMy Profile

  2. My kids love that second monument. I didn’t realize what it stood for…
    MCM Mama Runs recently posted…Memorial Weekend Recap + Black Bean Rollups RecipeMy Profile

  3. Thank you for sharing these beautiful shots. I drive often by the monuments, but never actually stop and visit.
    Dagmara – Glamista Home recently posted…3 ways I decorate my nightstandMy Profile

  4. Pingback: Memorial Weekend Recap + Black Bean Rollups Recipe - MCM Mama Runs

  5. I love the Iwo Jima memorial and didn’t know anything about the 2nd one. Thank you for tellling its story.
    carrie@familyfitnessfood recently posted…Why I Returned My Fitbit Charge HRMy Profile

  6. Coco says:

    I’d love to show it to you in person! 😉
    Coco recently posted…Visiting Monuments On Memorial DayMy Profile

  7. Carla says:

    so beautiful.
    and I will SO pass your thoughts and offer along to the husband who leaves for DC in 3 minutes as well.
    Carla recently posted…My child plays no sports.My Profile

  8. Thank you for reminding me of the beauty in DC…I’ve only been once as a younger girl and I hope to take our boys when they are old enough to appreciat eit and understand the sacrifices that those who die/fight for us make. We spent our day as a family – took walk, cook out, relaxed and played all around with the twins!
    sarah@creatingbettertomorrow recently posted…What to Do When Technology FailsMy Profile

  9. HoHo Runs says:

    The patriotic holidays always remind me of my Dad who was a World War II vet. We went to DC a few times when I was young and he loved to stop at all the monuments and memorials!
    HoHo Runs recently posted…136 DaysMy Profile

  10. Lisa says:

    Gorgeous art! I love the beauty and serenity in monuments like this. Thanks for sharing your photos.

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