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Visiting the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial
One of DC’s newest memorials honors the courage and sacrifice of those disabled in the line of duty
A visit to the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial is a solemn and powerful reminder of the very human cost of war. The memorial “conveys a combination of strength and vulnerability, of loss and renewal… through juxtaposition of granite and glass,” according to the National Park Service, which manages and maintains the first national memorial dedicated to disabled veterans. The memorial, which opened in October 2014, honors the sacrifice of those who were disabled in service to this country across all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Planning your visit to the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial
The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial is located just east of the United States Capitol and the United States Botanic Garden. The most convenient way to get to the memorial is by taking the Metrorail. The two closest Metro stops are Federal Center SW and Capitol South, both on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines. If traveling by bus, take DC Circulator’s National Mall route or ride Metrobus routes 32, 34 and 36 or P17 and P19. Note that street parking is often limited in DC.
Be advised that the memorial is not regularly staffed by National Park Service Rangers. To find out when Rangers will be present to assist visitors and provide interpretive programs, check out the National Park Service’s schedule of events.
What does it represent?
As you wander through the nearly 2.5-acre memorial, you’ll notice many beautiful and serene features that lend to the memorial’s contemplative and reflective aura. The centerpiece of the memorial is the star-shaped fountain and triangular reflecting pool with a ceremonial flame at the center of the star.
Tributes and stories of servicemen and women are told through 48 etched glass panels featuring photographs and quotations, and four large bronze sculptures. According to the National Park Service, these features “help interpret the challenges and feelings of the disabled veteran: call of duty and pride in service; trauma of injury; healing; and renewal of purpose.”
How did it get built?
While the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial didn’t officially open to the public until October 2014, Congress approved the memorial in 2000 and the Disabled Veterans’ Life Memorial Foundation was charged with raising the funds necessary for construction, maintenance and preservation. After a decade of fundraising, the official groundbreaking ceremony was held in November 2010 and on October 5, 2014, President Barack Obama helped open the memorial to the public.