Start with the façade, which incorporates a historic semicircular retaining wall originally intended as the ceremonial entrance to Arlington National Cemetery. Further, the memorial sits on the historic line that connects the Lincoln Memorial to Arlington House — symbolically linking the North and South after the Civil War and represented by a trail of pavers running from the Lincoln Memorial up the center of Memorial Bridge and Memorial Drive. The pavers extend onto the Court of Valor with a reflecting pool and a 200-jet fountain representing the sound of women’s voices. The runnel connecting the pool and fountain projects the line through the Great Niche and into the memorial, where it is visually continued by a band of polished black granite leading to the Register Room. The individual stories of women’s military service can be found on this historic line.
An arc of glass tablets etched with quotations by and about military women act as skylights running the entire length of the exhibit gallery with 16 exhibit alcoves for permanent and rotating shows. As the sun passes overhead, the quotations reflect down onto the gallery walls inside the memorial.
Four stairwells leading to the upper terrace breach the original wall and symbolize women breaking through barriers in the military. From the terrace, you can take in stunning views of the Washington Monument and Arlington National Cemetery as well as the memorial’s signature arc of glass tablets.
The Vaught Center serves as a multipurpose event space, gift shop and the Hall of Honor that recognizes servicewomen who were killed in action, died in the line of duty, held prisoner of war, or were recipients of our nation’s highest awards for service and bravery.
The memorial hosts panel discussions, film screenings, exhibits and other programs. Every Memorial Day and Veterans Day, the Court of Valor is the site of formal military honors, and a woman from each military service tells her story and pays tribute to women who have served before.
How to Visit
The Military Women’s Memorial is accessible from Arlington Cemetery Metro. Parking is available at the Arlington National Cemetery Visitor Center parking facility located on Memorial Avenue.