The United States Air Force Memorial
Located in Arlington, VA, the United States Air Force Memorial commemorates the service of United States Air Force members. It’s right next to the Arlington National Cemetery and overlooks the Pentagon. The Memorial is southwest of Columbia Pike and South Joyce Street. You can access it from the north side of Columbia Pike.
History of the Memorial
In January 1992, the government incorporated the Air Force Memorial Foundation to develop a memorial to honor the service members of the United States Air Force. In 1993, President Clinton authorized the Air Force Memorial. In 1994, the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission approved a site on Arlington Ridge.
The Memorial’s three spires range from 201 feet to 270 feet high. Creators designed them to look like they were soaring. The set of stainless steel arcs reaching into the sky pays tribute to “contrails of the Air Force Thunderbirds.” The absent fourth member shows viewers the missing person in the formation usually used during Air Force funeral fly-overs. This purposeful design evokes the sense of loss that many feel when someone is lost during their service. As a memorial, the structure is meant as a tribute to the fallen. Its location next to Arlington Cemetery allows families and friends to take in the sight as they visit their deceased loved ones.
The spires’ steel is combined with high-strength concrete filling in the lower 2/3 of each spire. The upper third is hollow, but each one is stable against high winds and intense weather. The Arup Engineering Consultancy completed the design of the spires.
Today, builders have started construction on combined projects- the congressionally mandated expansion of Arlington National Cemetery and the Defense Access Road (DAR) Project Realignment of Columbia Pike. The DAR project is ongoing, and the development of the Cemetery’s southern section is set to start in 2023. These projects will affect the visitation of the United States Air Force Memorial.
The ANC Southern Expansion Project construction will offer roughly 60,000 more burial sites and create larger cemetery grounds, adding 70 acres at the time of completion. The Air Force Memorial will be the center point of the ANC Southern Expansion. The boundary of the ANC expansion will envelop the area, including the Memorial.
At this time, the Memorial is open to pedestrians seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. It’s available to vehicle traffic from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. In either case, entrance is free. However, parking is limited due to the current development of the access road and the planned construction of the cemetery expansion. You can visit the Air Force Memorial website for updates about parking and visitation.
The space can host events, which are addressed on a case-by-case basis. They are normally held at the Air Force Memorial itself. In the future, event requests will be evaluated and remain at the Memorial, or a staff member may recommend switching to another location.
Incorporating the Memorial into the Arlington Nation Cemetery creates a hallowed place for all service members and the sites to share in honoring those who died during their course of duty. The surrounding cemetery environment is designed to strengthen the peaceful and serene atmosphere the Memorial currently evokes. Current Memorial operations will continue when the Cemetry’s Southern Expansion is finished, set for sometime in March 2027. If any changes to that date occur, you can find them on the Memorial or Cemetery websites.
VISIT US FROM THE AIR FORCE MEMORIAL