The United States Air Force Memorial overlooks the Pentagon from a promontory that is adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery. One of the last works by sculptor James Ingo Freed, the 270-foot tall monument pays tribute to the men and women who have served and sacrificed while in the Air Force and its forerunner organizations. The three stainless steel spires represent integrity, service and excellence. These are the core values of the Air Force. The arc shape of the spires instills the spirit of flight as they evoke the image of the contrails that emit from the planes during the Thunderbird Demonstration Team’s precision bomb burst maneuver. Depicting only three of the unit’s four contrails, the monument also symbolically represents the missing man formation that traditionally occurs during Air Force funeral fly-overs.
At the base of the spires, the Air Force “star” that has long adorned the side of Air Force aircraft is embedded in the granite. Additional architectural details at the memorial include a glass contemplation wall, a bronze statue by sculptor Zenos Frudakis, granite inscription walls and the Runway to Glory.
Dedicated in 2006, the memorial is the backdrop for more than 300 events each year. These include weddings, retirement ceremonies and wreath layings.