The World's Most Recognisable Memorial Sites

20 September 2019 • Celebrating Life

The world's most recognisable memorial sites

Memorials are meant for remembrance and reflection. They honour our heroes throughout history and allow us to learn about the past. Visit these nine monument memorials to remember the tragedy of war and the importance of peace.

9. Pearl Harbor National Memorial

Location: Honolulu, Hawaii

Pearl Harbour National Memorial

Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Park Service

The Pearl Harbor National Monument in Honolulu commemorates the fateful day American servicemembers died defending U.S. soil from aerial attacks by Imperial Japan’s forces. The minimalist yet striking structure is bright white under the Hawaiian sun—a neutral color that represents peace—and seemingly floats atop the USS Arizona, which sank during the battle in 1941. The massive battleship is visible from the viewing windows, which symbolizes that history is just below our surface, and that the sacrifices of those who died fighting for freedom cannot be erased from the depths of our memories.

8. Choeung Ek Genocidal Center

Location: Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Cambodia Memorial

Choeung Ek is essentially a gigantic cemetery. Its current location used to be a sprawling field and orchard that was used as a mass grave by the Khmer Rouge. An estimated 8,895 bodies were discovered at the site and became notoriously known as the Killing Fields. A beautiful Buddhist stupa (a structure used for meditation and usually contains relics) stands as the centerpiece of the memorial site today, as if reaching for heavens in order to transcend the tragedies of Earth. Inside are numerous skulls to remind visitors that sticks and stones can surely break bones, and that words of hatred can definitely hurt us.

7. Australian War Memorial

Location: Canberra, Australia

Canberra Memorial

The Australian War Memorial in Canberra is striking for its Byzantine architecture style that seems more fitting in Turkey than in the Australian capital. However, the shrine’s design perfectly symbolizes the monumental sacrifice of Australia’s service members throughout history. The larger-than-life structure, both in size and aesthetic, is appropriate for the memorial site, because the act of honouring and remembering fallen heroes is larger than death.

6. Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Location: Washington, D.C.

Vietnam Veterans Memorials

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is one of the most-visited monuments in the United States, especially during Memorial Day, Independence Day and Veteran’s Day. Every summer, the memorial site attracts visitors from around the world, who look at the simple yet visually stunning design of The Wall, which bears the name of American servicemembers who sacrificed their life in the Vietnam War. The stark contrast of black and white allows the names to speak for themselves, to tell their own history. It also reminds visitors that the casualties of war are not reduced to numbers and figures; that they have names and faces as well.

5. National War Memorial

Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

National War Memorial

The National War Memorial’s most iconic structure is, interestingly, called the Peace Tower. The war memorial in Canada’s capital is in the heart of the city, which makes it one of the most popular attractions for tourists. The monument, originally dedicated to Canadian military heroes who died during World War I, but was later rededicated to those who perished in other wars, such as Afghanistan is guarded by Ceremonial Guard sentries. The memorial has several monuments and statues, some of which depict figures from Greek mythology.

4. Tjentiste War Memorial

Location: Tjentište, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Tjentiste War Memorial

Besides the stunning vista surrounding the Tjentište Monument, which was erected as a memorial for the Battle of Sutjeska in 1943, what makes the abstract work of art remarkable is its backstory. The Battle of Sutjeska was as not much a battle as it was a bombardment of the town by Axis forces in order to destroy the Yugoslavian forces hiding there. However, the Axis military unit was not successful, and the Yugoslavian soldiers were able to escape. Therefore, the Tjentište Monument is a remembrance of the enemy’s failure. Having said that, the monument is still a memorial to a tragedy. 7,000 people in the small town were killed, most of whom were citizens.

3. Shrine of Remembrance

Location: Melbourne, Australia

Shrine of Rembrance

Just as the Australian War Memorial in Canberra is eye-catching for its Byzantine architecture, the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne is equally amazing for its classical Greek design. The war memorial was originally dedicated to service members from Victoria who died during World War I, but is now for all Australian service members who made the ultimate sacrifice in all wars. Outside are gardens and colonnades, whilst inside exhibitions are held for the public. The Shrine hosts observances for ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day.

2. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

Location: Hiroshima, Japan

Hiroshima Memorial

The bombing of Hiroshima, Japan might have helped end World War II, but it also ushered the beginning of the nuclear age. The memorial in Hiroshima is minimalist so that visitors can reflect on one of history’s most devastating singular event which led to the death of thousands of people most of whom were civilians. While the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park tells the story of war’s destructive power, it focuses on the need for peace in an interconnected world. If you visit, be sure to time it with the Hiroshima Lantern Festival, where hundreds of floating lanterns illuminate the waterway in remembrance of those who died.

1. 9/11 Memorial

Location: New York, NY

911 Memorial

This September, people around the world reflect on the tragic events that occurred on September 11, 2001. That brazen, horrific act of terrorism shaped the politics and society of the 21st century, not only in the United States, but around the world. Officially named the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, the memorial complex is dedicated to the people who died in the attacks, including the incident in 1993 (3,0002 in total, six of whom died from the 1993 bombing).

As an act of triumph and defiance to evils of the world, the monument is at the exact location of original Twin Towers. The memorial is also in close proximity to One World Trade Center, a.k.a. Freedom Tower, which was erected after 9/11. The famous Tribute in Light on top the Battery Parking Garage is also nearby, with plans to make it a part of the memorial complex. The names of the victims and the first responder units who sacrificed their lives to save others are immortalized at the memorial.

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