Architect James Ingo Freed designed this three-spire monument to depict the contrails of three Air Force Thunderbirds, flying in the missing-man formation traditionally reserved for Air Force funerals. Two granite inscription walls are located at opposite ends of the monument’s central lawn. The Air Force’s three key values ("integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do"), along with other meaningful quotes, are engraved on the south wall, while the north wall lists the Air Force’s Medal of Honor recipients. Guided tours of the area’s war memorials including the U.S. Air Force Memorial are offered; the memorial is also a stop on some sightseeing tours of Arlington.
Things to know before you go
- The memorial also hosts special events, ranging from commemorative ceremonies to weddings.
- You can arrange for a flag to be flown on site in honor of a serviceman or woman; the staff accepts requests through the website.
- Wheelchairs are available on a first come, first serve basis; a valid driver's license is required to borrow a chair.
- Handicap-accessible bathrooms are located in the building behind the Medal of Honor wall.
How to get there
The U.S. Air Force Memorial is located in Arlington, Virginia, on the grounds of Fort Myer. It’s just a few minutes' walk to other nearby attractions, including the Pentagon and the Arlington National Cemetery. Reach the memorial via DC Metro: Take the blue or yellow lines to the Pentagon City Station or the Pentagon Station; it’s about a mile (1.6 kilometers) walk to the site from both stations. Guided tours from DC often include round-trip transportation to the memorial.
When to get there
The memorial is open year round except on Christmas. The United States Air Force Band plays free concerts on Wednesday and Friday evenings at 8pm throughout the summer. Overall, spring and fall are popular times to visit Arlington, especially for those who plan to explore a lot on foot, since the weather is most pleasant then.
Arlington National Cemetery
Here, visitors can pay their respects to U.S. fallen soldiers; the cemetery is the final resting place for some 400,000, including notable figures such as President John F. Kennedy and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Most tours of Arlington National Cemetery include a visit to the adjacent U.S. Air Force Memorial.
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