Travel blog

10 Powerful Memorial Sites Everyone Should See

Posted by Diana Cowgill on Nov 8, 2022 10:00:00 AM

9/11 Memorial, New York City

Paying respects to those who have passed away is one of our strongest natural human instincts. It is said that if we remember someone they are never really gone.

There are some incredible memorials to see across the world. They honor both fighters and civilians that have been impacted by war and conflict. These memorials are painful yet important reminders for us to be grateful for every moment, and to truly cherish those we love.

Here are ten of the most powerful memorials found in the Unites States, Europe, and Vietnam.

Pearl Harbor National Memorial, Hawaii

USS Arizona, Pearl Harbor

The Pearl Harbor National Memorial on Oahu commemorates the day that would live in infamy, December 7, 1941. The famous war memorial is best known for the USS Arizona Memorial, which was built over the sunken USS Arizona.

Named the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, the USS Arizona Memorial honors the 1,177 crew members who died in the attack. Its hull still holds the remains of over nine hundred soldiers.

National WWI Museum and Memorial, Kansas City, Missouri

WWI Museum-Kansas City-Missouri

The National WWI Museum and Memorial was erected to honor the Americans who served in World War I. This stunning complex in Kansas City, Missouri is the country’s only museum and memorial dedicated solely to the Great War.

The Egyptian Revival-style memorial consists of a soaring white limestone tower, two massive stone sphinxes, and an Exhibition and Memory Hall.

Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia


Set in a beautifully wooded 639 acres, Arlington National Cemetery is the final resting place of over 300,000 Americans. Since the cemetery was established during the Civil War, military heroes, presidents, and enslaved peoples have been buried in this beautifully somber cemetery outside of Washington, D.C.

Nearly 7,000 people are laid to rest each year at Arlington. There are strict criteria for burial at Arlington, which is an honor reserved for notable citizen or military members and their immediate family members. They are interred alongside President Kennedy, the Tomb of the Unknowns, and the Memorial Amphitheater where many of the nation’s official ceremonies take place.

Located nearby is the Marine Corps War Memorial. Inspired by the iconic 1945 image of six Marines raising a U.S. flag during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II, this memorial commemorates all Marines who have given their lives in defense of the United States.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC

Washington D.C.’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial is an elegant and poignant monument to the brave men and women who perished in the Vietnam War. The monument includes The Three Servicemen and Vietnam Women's Memorial statues, the In Memory plaque, and a flagpole that flies both the U.S. and the MIA-POW flag.

Its most famous feature is the black granite Vietnam Memorial Wall. This simple V-shaped monument is etched with the names of the 58,318 American men and women who were declared dead or missing in the conflict in Vietnam. Stretching for nearly 500 feet, name after name after name, its sheer size drives home the devastating cost of the war.

World War II Memorial, Washington, D.C.

WWII Memorial-Washington DC

The World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. is built in memory of the 16 million brave American men and women who served in the Second World War, the over 400,000 who died, and the many millions who supported the war effort from home. This powerful U.S. war memorial commemorates and honors the fortitude of the American people.

Two dozen bronze panels surround the main entrance. Granite columns that represent American states and U.S. territories encircle a massive pool and fountain. Finally, a wall marked with over 4,000 gold stars stands in honor of all the Americans who died fighting in the war.

9/11 Memorial, New York City

9/11 Memorial, New York City

The 9/11 Memorial honors the 2,977 people killed in Manhattan, the Pentagon, and United Flight 93 in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The eight-acre memorial is located in the 16-acre World Trade Center complex, where the twin towers once stood.

The memorial consists of twin waterfall pools surrounded by bronze parapets inscribed with the names of the people who perished. According to the memorial’s architect, the pools represent “absence made visible.” Although water constantly flows into the pools, they are never filled. The sound of cascading water combined with over 400 swamp white oak trees make this memorial a place of tranquility and contemplation in the center of a bustling city.

The attached 9/11 Museum includes exhibits and artifacts memorializing modern America’s darkest day.

Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, Colleville-sur-Mer, France

Normandy American Cemetery

The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial is in Colleville-sur-Mer, France. A beautiful, deeply moving, and somber memorial, it overlooks the beaches of Normandy where so many young Americans passed during the Second World War. It was the first American WWII cemetery in Europe, established on June 8, 1944.

The cemetery covers 172.5 acres and holds 9,386 graves. Most of the deceased American military members perished on and around D-Day.

Holocaust Memorial, Berlin

Holocaust Memorial, Berlin

Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial, also known as The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, stands as a powerful monument to all the Jewish people who were killed in the Holocaust. The site, found a short distance from the Brandenburg Gate, covers a staggering 200,000 square feet, and resembles a graveyard. The haunting memorial contains 2,711 concrete slabs, all constructed at various sizes, that dot a sloping field.

One of the most chilling parts of the memorial is the underground “Place of Information.” It holds the three million names of Jewish Holocaust victims and helps convey the staggering, deadly scope of the Holocaust.

Shoes on the Danube Memorial, Budapest

Shoes on the Danube Memorial, Budapest

The Shoes on the Danube Memorial in Budapest honors the Jews slaughtered by the Fascist Hungarian militia during the Second World War. Sixty iron shoes line the edge of the Danube, representing the 3,500 people who were shot at the edge of the water and left to be carried away by the current. Only the shoes remain because members of the militia would force people to remove their most valuable piece of clothing before being shot.

Vietnam War Memorial, Hanoi

Vietnam War Memorial-Hanoi

The War Memorial in Hanoi has silently stood since 1993 across form the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. It elegantly fuses modernist and Vietnamese architecture and commemorates Vietnamese and foreign fighters who perished in the war. It is a deeply affecting experience to stand at this memorial in the actual place that the war was fought.

Pay Your Respects in Person with YMT Vacations

Many of our guests are war veterans, descendants of Holocaust survivors, and history enthusiasts. Particularly for these travelers, visiting these memorials and remembering the people honored at these sites is an incredibly moving experience. Many of our tours, including Historic WWII Sites of France & Germany, Journey through Vietnam, and Best of Hawaii Four-Island Tour provide the opportunity to visit some of these special memorials. To join, call your travel agent or YMT Vacations at 1-888-756-9072.

New call-to-action

Topics: Senior Travel, Travel Inspiration