Since Veteran’s Day in 1977, Wichita has paid homage to the men and women who have fought and died in various wars throughout history. Statues and sculptures honor their bravery at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Riverside.
From the Bicentennial Flag Pavilion to the individual memorials for specific wars and service members, visitors can pay their respects to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. Take the “Veteran’s Memorial Walk” along the east side of the Arkansas River right to the park and witness for yourself this beautiful and unique collection. The tour takes about 1-2 hours to complete.
Bicentennial Flag Pavilion
Designed in 1976 and dedicated in 1977, this pavilion houses 15 flags representing the evolution of America over the past two centuries. From the flag that once flew on Christopher Columbus’ Santa Maria to the current United States of America flag, learn how each were used throughout history and why each are important to the building blocks of American society.
Military Order of the Purple Heart
The Purple Heart is a prestigious military award inspired by an award created by General George Washington in 1782 – the Badge of Merit. It is the oldest award to be given to combat soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and merchant mariners for those wounded or killed in the line of duty. The Badge of Merit was revived in 1932 as the Purple Heart, and was given to all wounded veterans from World War I onward.
Gold Star Wives of America
This memorial was dedicated in 2004. Members of the Gold Star Wives of America include the wives, sweethearts and other loved-ones of those lost in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and other military campaigns. The Air Capital Chapter has more than 40 members.
Prisoners of War & Missing in Action Memorial
Many prisoners of war are believed to have been captured while serving, and kept for slavery or tortured until their death without being reported, despite rules set in place by the Geneva Convention in 1864. Those rules state opposing forces MUST list the names of all persons captured or killed in combat. There are more than 78,000 POW soldiers from World War II, 2,000 from the Korean War and 3,000 from the Vietnam War. This monument remembers all those lost with Kansas ties. April 19 is National POW Day.
Wichita Area Vietnam Veteran’s Association Memorial
The Vietnam War is one of the most controversial wars in history as people still debate today over whether America had any business getting involved. Politics aside, more than 58,000 U.S. troops were killed during the conflict in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia between November 1955 and April 1975.
The war was officially fought between North Vietnam and South Vietnam, as a struggle for communist power in the north forced its way to the south. The United States came to the aid of South Vietnam, but soon had to pull out because it couldn’t handle the burden of losing large amounts of money or soldiers. Eventually, it caused South Vietnam to fall to the communist government.
As Americans against the Vietnam War turned their backs on Vietnam veterans, controversy arose around the American government as to whether America should have been involved in the first place. In 1993, the Vietnam memorial at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Wichita was the first memorial built since the Bicentennial Flag Pavilion in 1977. It houses the names of all the service men and women who died in Vietnam who have Wichita ties.
American Gold Star Mothers Memorial
In 1929, the Kansas Chapter of the American Gold Star Mothers formed to create a support system for mothers who had lost their children in battle. This group of about 200 members raised money to create a black granite sculpture at Veteran’s Memorial Park, which was built in 2004.
Kansas Korean War Veteran’s Association Memorial
With the help of money raised by the Kansas Korean War Veteran’s Association, Richard Bergen finished this memorial in 1996. It includes the American, Korean, Kansas, POW/MIA and Korean Veteran flags as a tribute to those who served.
U.S. Marine Corps & U.S. Navy Hospital Corps Memorial
Built by the U.S. Marine Corps League, this memorial honors all Marines. On the back, you can read the names of several of those who have paid the price for freedom. Paired with the U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsmen, many who served and gave medical care during battle are also honored in this memorial.
U.S. Merchant Marine & U.S. Navy Armed Guard Memorials
These military men manned ships during World War I and World War II to carry goods across the oceans. However, many of these vessels were not armed. That meant many loads of goods and many lives were lost when the ships were hijacked. The U.S. Navy Armed Guards were known for carrying defensive weapons and defending the waters. This memorial honors both groups for their contributions during wartime.
U.S. Navy Submarine Service & SS248 Dorado Memorials
Soldiers who enlisted in the Submarine Service were also known as “The Silent Service,” as many went undetected deep beneath the sea. The Dry Docked Dolphins, a Submarine Service group with chapters in all 50 states, assigned a World War II MK-14 Torpedo Kansas. That Torpedo, the U.S.S. Dorado, has been commemorated in this memorial. A U.S. Navy anti-submarine plane shot down the original torpedo as it neared Panama. The military believed it was a Nazi submarine on Gulf Patrol.
Pearl Harbor Survivors Association Memorial
More than 1,500 United States military men and women were killed on Dec. 7, 1942, when Japan dropped a bomb on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Remaining survivors and their widows meet each year to remember that fateful day, but you can learn about the history and the soldiers from Kansas lost at this memorial any time. Kansas only has about 10 survivors still alive.
World War II Memorial
The newest memorial at Veterans Memorial Park is the World War II Memorial dedicated in May 2017. You can reach the two black granite bricks through three pathways of commemorative bricks marking the names of men and women who served in World War II. The big, granite panels are 6 feet tall and 8 inches thick, and honor the branches of military and supporting American forces. The memorial was dedicated in memory of the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Sedgwick County Memorial Hall & “Soldiers & Sailors” Monument
With four bronze statues to represent each military branch, this memorial honors those who served the Union and those who served the Confederacy during the Civil War. It was built in 1912 by the Local Grand Army of the Republic Chapter in Sedgwick County and has been placed on the Registry of Historic Places, along with the old Sedgwick County Court House.
Memorials in Progress/Recently Built
Other Memorials Desired
Other Memorials Around Wichita