Washington, D.C.’s National Mall, the stretch of the nation’s capital that boasts the Capitol building, the Washington Monument and memorials for veterans of several major wars, welcomes approximately 25 million visitors annually.
On Sunday, Oct. 5, the National Mall will unveil a brand-new monument that will allow these millions of visitors to pay respects to America’s disabled veterans.
The Washington Post reports that the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial is located next to the U.S. Botanic Garden and is within sight of the Capitol.
The Michael Vergason-designed memorial honors veterans of every conflict and all branches of service by telling their stories, with granite slabs and glass panels as its canvas. The memorial also features a lone flame next to a reflecting pool, offering a place for visitors to pay further respects to both the living and the deceased, the Washington Post reports.
“Nothing could be a more melancholy and distressing sight, than to behold those who have shed their blood or lost their limbs in the service of their Country,” reads a quote by George Washington, one of 18 similar quotes that reflect upon the experience of being a disabled veteran that are engraved on the memorial.
For any veteran, returning to a normal life after going to war is a challenge; for veterans with physical or mental disabilities, the challenge is even greater.
That may be why, while nine out of 10 Americans aged 65 and older are currently receiving benefits through Social Security, the rate of veterans on Social Security is even higher. In fact, one of every four Social Security recipients in America is a veteran, according to the U.S. Social Security Administration.
And while the memorial can’t reverse the pain of carrying a physical or psychological disability for the veterans it honors, it grants them the peace of mind that comes from knowing millions will visit this memorial each year.
“It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that there are people in our country that appreciate the service and contribution that disabled veterans have given,” Marine Cpl. Jessie Fletcher, a veteran who lost both his legs while serving in Afghanistan, told the Washington Post. “It’s nice for the caregivers to see as well.”