Virginia – Arlington National Cemetery: Women in Military Service for America Memorial

Virginia – Arlington National Cemetery: Women in Military Service for America Memorial
Virginia Western
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The Women in Military Service for America Memorial (WIMSA), located at the Ceremonial Entrance to Arlington National Cemetery, honors all women who have served in the United States Armed Forces. The Ceremonial Entrance was originally dedicated on January 16, 1932, when the Arlington Memorial Bridge opened, but was never actually completed or maintained.

Plans began to renovate the entrance in 1985, and New York husband and wife architectural team of Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi designed the modifications. Ground was broken on June 22, 1995, and the Memorial was dedicated on October 18, 1997, and officially opened to the public on October 20, 1997.

The memorial, located on over four acres of land, consists of semicircular granite retaining wall 30 feet high, 32 inches deep and 226 feet in diameter at the western end of the courtyard at the end of Memorial Drive. Staircases leading though the memorial to a terrace represent the barriers women have climbed over to be accepted in the military. There are 108 glass tablets, some of which are engraved with tributes from women veterans, others of which are blank tablets that will be engraved with tributes by future women in the military. Inside the memorial is a museum area featuring exhibits on women in the military and military history, an education center and small theater.

Arlington National Cemetery, a military cemetery directly across the Potomac from Washington, D.c., was established during the Civil War on the grounds of the Arlington House, formerly the estate of the family of Robert E. Lee’s wife Mary Anna (Custis) Lee, a descendant of Martha Washington. By 1864, the military cemeteries of Washington and Alexandria were filled with Union dead. After Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Meigs quickly selected Arlington as a replacement, in part to prevent the Lee’s from ever returning, the government confiscated the land claiming unpaid property taxes. Today, more than 300,000 people, including veterans and military casualties from every one of the nation’s wars, are interred in the 624-acre cemetery administered by the Department of the Navy.

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