disabled vets memorial

Visitors gather around the reflecting pool at the newly opened American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial in Washington, D.C.

In 1998 philanthropist Lois Pope was touring the 12 memorials on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., when she asked a National Park ranger, “Where is the memorial honoring the sacrifices of our nation’s disabled veterans?’’

The ranger replied, “Ma’am, there isn’t one.’’

Thus began a 16-year journey to create the first national memorial to honor the 4 million living disabled veterans, and the innumerable thousands more who have passed. Today our country has a special place to properly honor and thank the brave soldiers who have sacrificed beyond measure.

The Oct. 5 dedication ceremony was an historic occasion.

The American Veterans Disabled For Life Memorial is quite unique among all national monuments in that it pays tribute both to the living and the deceased, male and female, as well as disabled veterans across all branches of the military, through all historic, current and future conflicts, and those with both physical and “invisible’’ injuries. It is also within sight of the U.S. Capitol. This new national landmark will serve as a constant reminder of the cost of human conflict.

About the memorial

The focal point is a five-pointed, star-shaped fountain and reflecting pool with a 00single ceremonial flame. The five points represent the five branches of our military: Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard.

Glass walls – 48 panels with embedded words and images – depict personal journeys of courage and sacrifice. A grove of trees beside the pool signifies hope.

Thanks to the generous contributions of more than a million individual donors, veteran service organizations and corporate donors, America now has a place to pay tribute to some of our most courageous heroes – our disabled veterans.

The American Veterans Disabled For Life Memorial celebrates those men and women who may be broken in body or in mind – but never in spirit.

Vincent Darcangelo has been the commander of the Mercer County Disabled American Veterans for 27 years and is a past state commander of the Pennsylvania Disabled American Veterans. While serving in the Air Force from 1967 to 1971, he was injured in South Korea, suffering a permanent disability. He is the retired veterans employment and training representative for Mercer County CareerLink.

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