American monuments are world-renowned. They are the representations of the United States’ highest achievements and reflect our country’s triumphs, struggles, tragedies, and perseverance. These monuments serve as a time capsule for future generations to understand American history through the eyes of our predecessors. Many people do not realize that many landmarks within their own hometown may be monuments.
Monuments generally fall within three distinct categories: cemeteries, battlefields, and civilian memorials. There are several different types of American monuments that convey a variety of messages to everyone who takes the time to visit them and learn their significance. The designs and materials used by monument builders also tell a story about where they’re from and the culture they come from.
Here are 10 of America’s best monuments to visit while you’re on vacation or even if you live in your hometown. The American Monuments listed below include some of the most visited attractions, landmarks, and historic places that honor, celebrate, and commemorate our shared history as Americans.
1) Statue of Liberty – New York, NY
The Statue of Liberty is a colossal neoclassical sculpture located on Liberty Island in New York Harbor. The pedestal for the statue was built with funds raised by early American immigrants visiting France, where it was gifted to the United States by the people of France. Everyone who visits New York City should make sure they visit this monument. It is one of the most iconic structures in all of NYC.
2) World War II Memorial – Washington, DC
The World War II Memorial is a monument that recognizes more than 4 million Americans who served in the military during WWII. The memorial consists of 56 granite pillars which are organized into a rectangle reflecting the position of America’s involvement in global
2) Abraham Lincoln – Washington D.C., USA
This is a large-scale statue of one of America’s greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln. The 19-foot tall statue was carved from 28 blocks of marble in 1874 by Larkin Mead and Henry Kirke Brown for an exhibition at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. It was originally meant to stand in Lincoln Square in New York City until it gained attention from the people of Chicago, who donated money for its shipment there where it has stood since 1876. The statue is made of white marble with a large bronze seated figure on top of a granite pedestal.
3) Bunker Hill Monument – Boston, Massachusetts
The Bunker Hill Monument commemorates the Battle of Bunker Hill which was a significant victory for the Americans over British forces in 1775. The 242-foot granite obelisk towers above the surrounding area and is visible from many different parts of Boston. It is accessible by car or steep walking paths.
4) Robert Gould Shaw/54th Regiment Memorial – Boston, Massachusetts
This memorial commemorates Robert Gould Shaw and the African American soldiers of the 54th Regiment. The regiment was first mustered in 1861 as a state militia unit to defend Washington D.C., later serving in South Carolina and Florida before being incorporated into the Federal Army as part of the Union’s assault on Charleston. They came under heavy fire on July 18, 1863 at the Battle of Fort Wagner where Colonel Shaw was killed in action. The regiment suffered great casualties that day but their valiant efforts led to Union victory and cemented them as some of the greatest heroes in the Civil War.
5) General Grant National Memorial – New York City, NY
The General Grant National Memorial is one of the most impressive and grand monuments to honor a US President, General Ulysses S. Grant. This 34-foot tall granite memorial was dedicated in 1897 on the centennial anniversary of Grant’s birth at the largest gathering of US Presidents ever assembled until that time. A statue inside depicts Grant seated on his horse Cincinnati while he looks out over the Hudson River.
6) Vietnam Veterans Memorial – Washington, DC
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is one of the most profound monuments because it allows visitors to see into the past and imagine what servicemen and women went through during America’s involvement in Vietnam. The black granite wall contains names of all those who were killed or remained missing as a result of the war. This monument certainly makes you stop and think about what war is like and the hardships soldiers face.
7) AIDS Memorial Quilt – Washington DC
The AIDS Memorial Quilt is a large-scale work of art that commemorates the lives of Americans who died due to complications from HIV/AIDS. It has become an international symbol for AIDS awareness and is currently displayed in its entirety several times throughout the year. The quilt consists of individual panels which are each 3×6 feet and commemorate the life of a person who died due to HIV/AIDS. A panel is displayed here as well as at the National Mall in DC and will be on display through October 10th, 2010.
8) Oklahoma City National Memorial – Oklahoma City, OK
The Oklahoma City National Memorial is a tribute to the lives of those who were lost in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah building on April 19, 1995. This monument displays 168 empty chairs along with the names of all the victims who died that day making it a profound reminder of sacrifice and loss in times of war and terrorism.
9) Gateway Arch – St. Louis, MO
This stainless steel arch is the nation’s tallest monument at 630 feet. The Gateway Arch commemorates Thomas Jefferson and the westward expansion of the United States in addition to being a memorial for men who have died exploring North America. Its distinctive shape has become an iconic symbol for St. Louis and it is the most visited tourist attraction in Missouri.
10) Mount Rushmore National Memorial – Keystone, South Dakota
This monument features four of some of the most influential presidents in the history of America: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. The 60-foot heads are carved into granite cliff faces making them one of the biggest attractions for visitors to this part of South Dakota. These incredible sculptures are a sight to behold and a tribute to what presidents can do for a nation.
The 10 best American monuments are a testament to the country’s rich history and contributions in shaping our world. From Civil War memorials, statues of great presidents, war memorials for soldiers who died fighting for their country, or even an AIDS Memorial Quilt that honors lives lost due to HIV/AIDS – these monuments serve as reminders of America’s past.
Whether you’re visiting one of these sites on vacation or live nearby where they stand tall in your city, stop by any time! The experience is sure to be memorable and may provide you with some perspective about how fortunate we are living here today.