National Harbor honors DoD branches with statues on Veterans Day

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Amaani Lyle
  • Air Force District of Washington Public Affairs
Art and history intersected at the National Harbor, Md., Nov. 11, where government officials, military leaders, and spectators honored service members past and present on Veterans Day.

This year’s observance marked the centennial of Armistice Day Nov. 11, signaling the end of World War I, and Harbor officials celebrated the occasion with the unveiling of new statues depicting military service members.

Air Force District of Washington Command Surgeon Col. Norman S. West delivered remarks at the event Harbor officials billed as, “Unveiling of America’s Team: Protecting Your Freedom.” Other speakers included former Navy Secretary and five-term Virginia Sen. John Warner and sculptor Ivan Schwartz, the artist who designed the five statues representing each military branch that adorned the art-filled venue along the Potomac River waterfront.

“For over 243 years of independence, these patriots stood watch over America,” West said of veterans. “From Bunker Hill to Baghdad, their vigilance and determination to uphold the beliefs on which our nation was founded have made us the beneficiaries of their blessings.”

West emphasized that America has long been a beacon of hope and freedom to others around the world -- drawing millions to its shores and serving as a model of democracy.

The colonel recounted how the guns of the Great War fell silent across Europe a century ago as the doughboys began their returns home. After World War I, the somber remembrance widened its focus to honor veterans past and future who stand guard and keep the peace locally and around the globe. As such, what was formally known as Armistice Day became known as the Veterans Day widely celebrated today.

“That’s the story of America’s veterans -- ordinary men and women who stepped forward to purchase our independence with their service and to help others who felt the oppression of tyranny,” West said, “on the wind-swept beaches of Normandy; on the frozen ground of Korea; in the sweltering jungles of Vietnam; in the sandy deserts and high, frozen mountains of Iraq and Afghanistan; and during all the years of restless peace between conflicts.”

A veteran from each branch unveiled their service’s respective statue. Attendees then enjoyed their day at the Harbor, admiring Schwartz’s artwork while celebrating those who inspired it.

Learn more about the U.S. military and those who served by sharing the hashtag “#KnowYourMil” on social media.