World War II Memorial

Virtual Visit: Veteran Memorials

Explore the veteran memorials of the Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza.
Virtual Visit: Veteran Memorials

Virtual Visit: Veteran Memorials

Explore the veteran memorials of the Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza.

Fast Facts


  1. The Purple Heart Memorial was dedicated in 2004. An estimated 1.8 million Americans have been awarded the Purple Heart for their sacrifice. The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is located in New Windsor, New York.
  2. The World War II Memorial was designed by William F. O’Connor III, a Vietnam veteran and former Deputy Commissioner for the Office of General Services. About 900,000 New Yorkers served in WWII.
  3. The NYS Vietnam Memorial was dedicated in 1984. Its list of New Yorkers killed during the war is reminiscent of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., dedicated just two years earlier.
  4. The Korean War Veterans Memorial was dedicated on June 25, 1990, the fortieth anniversary of the start of the War. A total of 482,000 New Yorkers served in the Korean War.
  5. The Women Veterans Memorial was dedicated in 1998. Of the more than 1.2 million women veterans, over 61,000 of them reside in New York State. The memorial is entered through a grove of Japanese Zelkova trees.
  6. The eight-foot bronze sculpture of Liberty at the center of the Women Veterans Memorial by local artist Hy Rosen and was inspired by the depiction of Liberty on the New York State Seal.


What are some of the other memorials at the Empire State Plaza?
Other memorials include the New York State Children’s Memorial, the New York State Fallen Firefighters Memorial, and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

Are all of the memorials outdoors?
The majority of the memorials are outdoors on the Plaza with the exception of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and sections of the New York State Vietnam Memorial that are located in the Empire State Plaza Concourse.

Which memorial was the first memorial to be built by a state?
The New York State Vietnam Memorial and Gallery at the Empire State Plaza was the first state effort in the nation to build a memorial to the Vietnam War.

Who are the women represented on the New York State Women Veterans Memorial?
The two bronze sculptures of women on the memorial represent women veterans from all areas of service and Lady Liberty is placed in the middle of the two sculptures.

When did the Purple Heart Medal originate?
The Purple Heart, the nation’s oldest military decoration in current use, originated in August 1782 by General George Washington during the American Revolutionary War.

What is the significance of the tall hedges around the World War II Memorial?
The hedges are made in the shape of a wreath, a common military insignia, that is inverted to represent both the heroism and grief of war.

Why are there two fountains at the World War II Memorial?
The two pools of water represent the Atlantic and Pacific theaters of war. The two fountains shoot out strongly from between the two pools, representing the force of American troops as well as the turbulent nature of the war itself.

Have the memorials changed over time?
Several memorials, such as the Fallen Firefighters Memorial and Police Officers Memorial, are rededicated annually in special ceremonies. Their honor rolls are updated regularly to reflect those who die in the line of duty.

Do any Plaza memorials have an eternal flame?
The New York State Missing Persons Remembrance Memorial has an eternal flame burning at its top. A square, gray granite base is surmounted by a 20-foot-tall stainless steel sculptural frame that supports the flame, which is meant to both literally and figuratively provide the light home. The memorial is dedicated to the men, women, and children of New York State who have been reported missing, and offers families affected by the unexplained disappearance of a loved one a place to reflect and remember.