The West Virginia Veterans Memorial is a two-story oval shaped monument honoring more than 10,000 West Virginians who made the ultimate sacrifice in defending the nation in twentieth century conflicts. Composed of four limestone monoliths surrounded by a reflecting pool, the interior walls are faced in polished black granite etched with the names of these men and women. The Memorial was designed by P. Joseph Mullins, who also sculpted the four figures representing the four major twentieth century conflicts and the four major branches of military service.
Begun as a privately funded undertaking, the Veterans Memorial Commission spearheaded these efforts as it undertook compiling the names to be honored on the Memorial. After the official groundbreaking ceremony on June 22, 1990, the foundation was completed the year after and the monolith cores in 1992. Work was performed under direction of ZMM, Inc. architects and G & G Builders. The 1994 legislature provided for lottery revenues to supplement fund-raising efforts, moving the project to a more rapid completion. With installation of the final sculpture in 1999, the cost of the Memorial and data on the inscribed names approached four million dollars. The project continues through the work of the Veterans Memorial Archives, which compiles additional background information on each veteran honored on the Memorial, to be placed in a database and accessible to the public through the West Virginia State Archives.
Click here to visit the Veterans Memorial Archives Database.
Dedication of the Memorial, with the World War II sailor sculpture, took place on Veterans Day 1995, ten years after the appointment of the original West Virginia Vietnam Veterans Memorial Commission. In Veterans Day ceremonies in 1997 - 99, the bronze sculptures of a World War I dough boy, a Korean aviator, and a Vietnam Marine, respectively, were dedicated. Each figure is in full gear, authentic to the period and rank represented, as meticulously researched by the sculptor.
The West Virginia Veterans Memorial is part of the State Capitol Complex in Charleston. To visit the Memorial, take Exit 99 (State Capitol/Greenbrier St.) of Interstate 64/77. Pre-pay parking (bring quarters!) is available on the Capitol Complex. Additional visitor parking is available at Laidley Field on Elizabeth St. with shuttle service to the complex.
It is impossible to determine the number of West Virginians who served in the American Revolution, War of 1812, and Mexican War because West Virginia was still part of Virginia. The U.S. Veterans Affairs Office has defined the periods of active duty and the U.S. Dept. of Defense has compiled estimated service numbers for 20th-century wars.
To find information on the men and women whose names are engraved on the memorial, search the Veterans Memorial Database.
To be eligible, recipients must have been born in West Virginia, enlisted from West Virginia, or served in a West Virginia unit.
If you have additional information about the veterans listed on the Memorial or if you know of any West Virginia veterans killed or missing in action whose names do not appear on the wall, please contact Debra Basham, Archives and History, 304/558-0230.
West Virginia Archives and History