On Saturday, May 20, the United States will celebrate Armed Forces Day. On this day, Americans come together to honor those Americans who serve in all five branches of the U.S. military. All across the country, people will celebrate with military displays, parades, and visits to memorials.
The idea for Armed Forces Day was introduced in 1949 by Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson, who suggested a unified day to replace the separate Army, Navy, and Air Force Days. Johnson’s plan was accepted, and America celebrated the first Armed Forces Day in 1950. Early on, Armed Forces Day was a day for the military to show off its latest equipment as well as to acknowledge those who served.
Though many patriotic Americans will pay their respects at the more well-known monuments and memorials across the country — Arlington, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier — there are quite a few lesser-known memorials no less deserving of respect on this day of remembrance and acknowledgement. Here are just a few of the memorials you might find off the beaten path, all just a few hours’ bus ride away.
African American Civil War Memorial in Washington, DC
On the corner of Vermont Avenue and U street in Washington DC is the African American Civil War Memorial: a bronze sculpture known as The Spirit of Freedom. The statue itself was commissioned in 1993 and completed in 1997. This memorial lies just across from the African American Civil War Museum, which was opened in 1999. There, visitors can search a genealogy database to find ancestors and relatives who may have been involved in the Civil War, as well as view Civil War memorabilia, weapons, uniforms, and clothing.
Vietnam Women’s Memorial in Washington, DC
Over 265,000 women volunteered to serve in the armed forces during the Vietnam War. Of those, 11,000 were stationed in Vietnam itself, most of them physicians, physical therapists, or military intelligence. The Vietnam Women’s Memorial in the National Mall of Washington, D.C. pays tribute to those women who served. A statue of three women in uniform attending to a wounded soldier, the memorial lies just north of the Mall’s famous reflecting pool.
Texas Medal of Honor Memorial in Midland, TX
In Midland, Texas, you’ll find the Texas Medal of Honor Memorial, which honors Texas citizens who have received the Medal of Honor from the Spanish-American War through the Vietnam War. The memorial itself is a bronze figure of George H. O’Brien, Jr., a hero of the Korean War, above a granite base displaying names of the medal recipients. This memorial can be found at the Commemorative Air Force International Headquarters in Midland, only hours from San Antonio by charter bus.
Go for Broke Monument in Los Angeles, CA
Acknowledging those Japanese Americans who served in the United States Army during World War II, the Go for Broke Monument can be found in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles. “Go for Broke!” was the official motto of the 100th Infantry Battalion, whose insignia can be found on the polished black stone of the monument. Also on the monument is a list of over 16,000 soldiers who fought on the side of the Allies, even as the United States was engaging in forced internment and relocation of Japanese Americans. Among the quotations below the main inscription is a quote from Harry S. Truman: “You not only fought the enemy . . . you fought prejudice and won.”
Summer is a great time to visit any of these national treasures and show your patriotic pride. Whether on Armed Forces Day, or any other day of the year, Metropolitan Shuttle can help make your next trip easy and stress-free. Want to learn more? Call us at 1-866-556-3545 or contact us today for a free quote.