Memorial Day: Memorials dedicated to U.S. service members who died in Iraq and Afghanistan

Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial
The Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial in Irvine was dedicated six years ago. In this 2010 photo, volunteer Pam Rogan is reflected in one of five granite panels etched with the names of those lost in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
(Don Leach / Daily Pilot)

If Vietnam veteran and activist Jan Scruggs has his way, one day there will be a memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to honor living veterans as well as those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We have to memorialize the troops, remember those serving, certainly remember those who gave their lives,” Scruggs told the MilitaryTimes last year.

Scruggs, who pushed to get the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (a.k.a. the Wall) built on the mall, says a memorial needs to happen now and has formed the nonprofit Global War on Terror Memorial Foundation to make it happen.

From small communities to big cities, others have created memorials dedicated to what some call “America’s longest war.”


Here are places to seek out this Memorial Day, or anytime, to honor those who fought and/or lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Old North Church Memorial Garden in Boston.
The Old North Church Memorial Garden in Boston.
(Tony Webster/Wikimedia Commons )

—The Old North Church Memorial Garden in Boston stands in a quiet place in the back of the church that figured prominently in the Revolutionary War. The memorial is made of strands of blank dog tags dedicated to U.S. men and women in the armed forces who lost their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq. It’s a good place to reflect on war — from America’s birth (the city’s famed Paul Revere statue is nearby too) to its ongoing conflicts. Where: Old North Church, 193 Salem St., Boston

—The name says it all: Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial. What started out in 2003 as a collection of wooden monuments with yellow ribbons grew to be five permanent granite plaques inscribed with more than 6,000 names. The memorial honors those who died in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Where: Northwood Community Park, 4531 Bryan Ave., Irvine. 


—The Crosses of Lafayette in Lafayette, Calif., also represents community-driven efforts to honor soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The hillside monument in the town east of Berkeley started in 2006.

The memorial contains more than 2,500 wooden crosses, stars of David and Islamic crescents plus a sign with the running total on the number of deaths. A vigil will be held here 7 p.m. Monday. Where: across from the Lafayette BART station at 3601 Deer Hill Road in Lafayette.

—Many places in California have dedicated Afghanistan-Iraq memorials, including Cupertino. The town’s Veterans Memorial features a sculpture called “The Guardians,” which depicts two Navy SEALS — local resident Matthew Axelson and James Suh of Florida — who died fighting the Taliban in 2005. Where:  The memorial is at Meadowview Lane and Mann Drive in Cupertino.

For more sites, check out’s list of memorials.


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