USAF Memorial Finally A Reality
As part of its year-long 60th anniversary celebration, the US
Air Force dedicated a memorial nearly 15 years in the making
When Air Force Memorial Foundation Chairman Ross Perot Jr.
officially presented the memorial to President Bush he said, "This
memorial says to everybody who visits, today and tomorrow, 'This is
the spirit that helped build the Air Force. This is the sacrifice
that helped defend our freedom. This is the courage that helped
build our nation.' On behalf of a very grateful country, and a
grateful people, it says, 'Thank you.'"
Visitors to Washington DC will easily see the three spires
comprising the memorial atop a promontory in Arlington, VA. The
memorial overlooks the Pentagon and sits adjacent to the
With Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, AF Chief of Staff
General T. Michael Moseley and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air
Force Rodney J. McKinley looking on, President Bush formally
accepted the Air Force Memorial from Perot.
Before Saturday, the Air Force was the only US military service
without a memorial. President Bush noted, "A soldier can walk the
battlefields where he once fought. A Marine can walk the beaches he
once stormed, but an Airman can never visit the patch of sky he
raced across to defend freedom. And so it is fitting that from this
day forward, the men and women of the Air Force will have this
Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force McKinley, representing
the service's enlisted members, said, "This is a long over-due
tribute to all those who are a part of this ongoing cycle of
dedicated and talented Americans who serve in the Air Force."
The memorial incorporates three stainless-steel spires curving
skyward arranged concentrically about an Air Force Star embedded in
the structure's concrete foundation. As you approach the memorial,
you'll walk along the Runway to Glory at the entrance. You'll pass
a bronze Honor Guard statue and see arranged at either end of a
central lawn granite inscription walls. A prominent feature of the
memorial is a glass Contemplation Wall bearing a representation of
the lost wingman formation flown by the comrades of fallen
President Bush dedicated the sculpture, designed by a renowned
architect, the late James Ingo Freed, to all past, present and
future service members of the United States Air Force.
The President said, "A long blue line of heroes has defended
freedom in the skies above. To all who have climbed sunward and
chased the shouting wind, America stops to say your service and
sacrifice will be remembered forever and honored in this place by
the citizens of a free and grateful nation."
Some interesting facts you may not know about the memorial:
- The highest spire soars 270 feet skyward
- Each spire wears a 3/4 inch-thick stainless steel skin
- The total weight of the structure is 7,300 tons
- The support structure holding each spire upright extends 40 ft
into the bedrock below
- Inside each spire preventing its collapse are six 2,000 lb
steel balls which move opposite to wind-induced
As part of the dedication celebration, several aircraft, ranging
from World War One bi-planes to today's stealth bombers and
fighters, flew over the crowd and memorial in chronological order,
providing visual evidence of the evolution of military flight.
Aside from evoking feelings of freedom soaring aloft, the three
spires represent many meaningful symbols. They reflect the
service's three core values: Integrity, Service and Excellence.
Additionally, they manifest the Total Force Concept of Active,
Guard and Reserve components of the service. And finally, they are
reminiscent of the famous "bomb burst" maneuver performed over
countless awed audiences by the Air Force Thunderbirds -- and
performed again over the cheering crowd before a newly dedicated
Air Force Memorial on Saturday.
"We commemorate today the courage of the men and women who wear
the Air Force blue," said President Bush. "We remember those who
gave their lives for their fellow Americans. We mourn their loss,
we pray for their families and we consecrate their legacy here
ANN joins President Bush in thanking and honoring the past,
present and future members of our United States Air