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Our Mission

Honor, Recognize, and celebrate the men and women of the Sea Services, past, present, and future; and to Inform the public about their service.

Our Story

The United States Navy Memorial is the triumph of a centuries-old dream for America’s Sea Services. When architect Pierre L'Enfant designed Washington, DC, he envisioned a memorial that would celebrate the rich heritage of the United States Navy, dating back to 1775 when a force of eight small wooden ships fought and won its first battle at sea. 

L'Enfant's vision would be realized over two hundred years later. Navy legend and former Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral Arleigh Burke decided there was enough “talk” about a Navy Memorial and that it was time to act. Burke and his Navy colleagues, including former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Tom Moore and former Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral Elmo "Bud" Zumwalt worked together to form a non-profit organization called the “United States Navy Memorial Foundation” in the spring of 1977.  

Under the leadership of Rear Admiral William Thompson, USN (Ret.), the United States Navy Memorial sought and received the blessing of Congress to construct a memorial on public land in the District of Columbia. A bill was introduced in the Senate and House in 1978 and was signed into law by President Carter – a U.S. Naval Academy graduate – in 1980. It would be built on the recently redeveloped Pennsylvania Avenue, also known as “America’s main street” for its prime location between the White House and Capitol Building.

Immediately a call went out to the millions of Navy veterans and active duty to support the building of this memorial.  28 million dollars later the Lone Sailor was dedicated on the Navy Memorial on October 13th, 1987, the Navy's 212th birthday. It has served as a living tribute to the men and women of the Sea Services – past, present, and future – for more than 30 years.


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"This living Memorial is a proud and stirring tribute to the men and women of the United States Navy who have served and will continue to serve our country, in peace and war, with gallantry and devotion."

- President Ronald Reagan

Questions?  Contact our front desk at (202) 380-0710.