The United States Air Force Memorial pays tribute to the men and women who have served the United States Air Force and even those who fought before them, long before the Air Force was officially established. It is situated in Arlington, Virginia within the perimeters of Fort Myer just a stone?s throw away from The Pentagon and the Arlington National Cemetery where Columbia Pike and South Joyce Street intersect. It was commissioned by the United States Air Force Memorial Foundation and was the last work of renowned American architect James Ingo Freed who was also the mastermind behind the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
In 1992, the Air Force Memorial Foundation was established to spearhead the creation of a memorial that would pay tribute to the people in the United States Air Force. A charter signed by then President Bill Clinton formalized and authorized the establishment of the Air Force Memorial.
The original location of the site was supposed to be adjacent to Marshall Drive called the Arlington Ridge. The site was very near the two Iwo Jima Memorials. In 1997, Congressman Gerald B.H. Solomon put forward a bill to disallow the establishment of any memorial, monument or any edifice that would be ?within view? of the Iwo Jima Memorial. Construction was delayed because of this as Solomon and his allies filed a temporary restraining order against the building of the Air Force Memorial. The case was dismissed. However, threatened with the fear of being antagonized in the Congress by Marine veterans, the Air Force Foundation decided to move the site of the memorial to its present location in Fort Myer. Its current location offers a good view of the Pentagon and other popular Washington D.C. landmarks.
The groundbreaking of the Air Force Memorial was held in September 2004. Actual construction began in February 2006 and was completed in September of the same year. It was dedicated on October 14, 2006 with estimated attendees of 30,000 with President Bush delivering the keynote address.
The Air Force Memorial is definitely a unique landmark and a sight to behold. It is composed of three spires to simulate that reaches from 210 feet to 270 feet into the air and are meant to simulate a perfect ?bomb burst? formation made popular by the United States Air Force Thunderbird Demonstration Team. The spires are made of curved stainless steels and are also purposed to represent the U.S. Air Force?s dominance in the skies.
The three spires are set on an Air Force ?star? made out of granite and is an icon that could be seen on all U.S.A.F aircrafts. Other features of the Air Force Memorial include the ?Runway to Glory? and an Honor Guard bronze bust sculpted by Zenos Frudakis. The Contemplation Wall made out of glass pays tribute to those who died in service. A couple of granite inscription walls bookend the lawn while beautiful bluestone footpaths joins the Contemplation Wall and the Honor Guard.