War memorials are reminders of times when humanity went through crises. Visiting war memorials is not just a touristy experience but also an enlightening one. You should visit eight war memorials to learn more about life, death, and history.
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1. Choeung Ek Genocidal Centre, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Throughout history, millions of people have lost their lives in brutal genocides, where ruthless killings took place in the name of race, ethnicity, religion, and other group identities. One of the most violent genocides in history happened in Cambodia during the reign of the Khmer Rouge (1975-1979).
Choeung Ek Genocidal Centre was previously known as the Killing Fields due to its violent history. Today, a Buddhist stupa stands in the place and honors the death of millions of innocent people.
2. Vietnam War Memorial, Washington, DC
The Vietnam War was a brutal conflict in which thousands of American and Vietnamese soldiers lost their lives. To honor the death of American veterans in the war, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was erected in 1982. The famed area of the memorial – The Wall – includes the names of around 58,318 martyred American soldiers.
A part of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam Women’s Memorial, is dedicated to the nurses who served during the war. The memorial is open 24/7; anyone can walk in to pay homage to the fallen soldiers.
3. 9/11 Memorial, New York
9/11 was one of the most heartbreaking brutalities in the world and one recent enough to be in the public consciousness. The 9/11 Memorial was opened on September 11, 2011 — a decade after the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers.
The 9/11 Memorial is located where the Twin Towers used to be, housing reflecting pools with bronze panels with names of those who lost their lives in the tragedy. At the heart of New York City, this is one of the most poignant memorials in the world.
4. Holocaust Memorial, Berlin, Germany
Most of us are aware of the Holocaust and the lessons it bears for human civilization. Inaugurated on May 10, 2005, the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin is in honor of all the Jews who lost their lives under the Nazi regime. The memorial houses journals, photographs, letters, and other personal belongings of the Jews who were killed during the holocaust, and it reminds us of the people behind the sheer number of deaths.
5. World War II Memorial, Washington, DC
The National World War II Memorial in Washington, DC, is in honor of the 16 million soldiers who died in different parts of the world during the second world war. The memorial opened to the public in 2004 and houses a range of artifacts and personal belongings of the fallen soldiers. You can visit the World War II Memorial on any day of the week and pay respect to the millions of dead soldiers.
6. India Gate, New Delhi, India
The Indian subcontinent has been through significant violent events over the past centuries. From Indian soldiers who died fighting for the British Army in World War II to the martyrs of the Kargil and Indo-Chinese wars, millions of Indian soldiers have lost their lives in battle. The India Gate in New Delhi honors the sacrifice of thousands of soldiers who died serving their country. A perennial flame burns at the spot in honor of the fallen soldiers.
7. The American Cemetery and Memorial, Manila, Philippines
With an area of more than 62 hectares, the American Cemetery and Memorial in the capital city of the Philippines is one of the largest war memorials in the world. It houses more than 17,000 graves of soldiers who died during the second world war. Most of these graves are of American soldiers serving in different parts of Pacific and Southeast Asia.
The neat architecture and sheer grandeur of the place evoke humility and empathy. It’s a significant war memorial that should be on the bucket list of anyone who wants to learn more about the history of wars.
8. Hiroshima Peace Memorial, Hiroshima, Japan
The nuclear attack on Hiroshima in 1945 is one of the most striking images of ruthless violence that killed millions and left its impact on multiple generations. Hiroshima Peace Memorial became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. The actual site is the ruins of the Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall – an important location in Hiroshima before the 1945 nuclear bombing. The structure’s ruins stand to this day and remind us of the destruction that war brings.
War memorials are not go-to tourist spots, but they are necessary physical reminders of the violence and destruction of wars. We hope this list inspires you to check out these touching war memorials from around the world.