The Virginia War Memorial held the official dedication ceremony of the expanded Shrine of Memory and grand opening of the C. Kenneth Wright Pavilion on Saturday, February 29, 2020. The date marked the 64th anniversary of the original dedication of the Memorial held on February 29, 1956.
More than 800 persons, including U.S. Senator Tim Kaine and members of Gold Star families from throughout the Commonwealth gathered to officially open, dedicate, and tour the recently completed $25 million expansion project.
In addition to Senator Kaine and Gold Star family members, the program included keynote speaker General John P. Jumper, former U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff; Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Carlos Hopkins; Major General Tim Williams, Adjutant General of Virginia; John Maxwell, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS), and Virginia War Memorial Director Dr. Clay Mountcastle.
Ken Adams, Chief Emeritus of the Upper Mattaponi Nation and Powhatan Red Cloud Owen of the Chickahominy Nation were joined by representatives of their tribes to bless the expanded Shrine of Memory and Wright Pavilion. Patriotic music was provided by the Virginia Military Institute Regimental Band and VMI Herald Trumpets.
“All Virginians can be proud that this Memorial is often praised as the premier state war memorial in America,” said Dr. Clay Mountcastle. “The major expansion further signifies its position as a true living museum and educational institution and not simply a passive space for remembrance and contemplation. Our mission is to tell the stories of these heroes and their service and sacrifice every day and to every new generation.”
The names of the nearly 12,000 Virginia men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice during World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the first Persian Gulf War are etched on the Memorial’s Shrine of Memory-20th Century. The Memorial’s new Shrine of Memory-Global War on Terrorism and Beyond similarly honors those killed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, the Pentagon, and other locations throughout the world.
The 28,000 square foot expansion includes the C. Kenneth Wright Pavilion, which houses a new exhibit gallery, the Virginia Medal of Honor Gallery, a 350-seat auditorium and lecture hall, a veterans art gallery, and a long-distance learning studio. The expansion project also added a new underground parking garage and deck.
The Memorial was last expanded in 2010 with the opening of the 18,000 square foot Paul and Phyllis Galanti Education Center. The Galanti Center houses the American Legion exhibit gallery, a movie theater, classroom and meeting spaces, and the E. Bruce Heilman Amphitheater. The Memorial is located on 4 1/2 acres overlooking the James River Valley in downtown Richmond.
The public is invited and encouraged to visit the Virginia War Memorial Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, 12 noon to 4 p.m. Additional public events are held during evening hours.
Admission and parking are free, except for selected events as noted. The Virginia War Memorial is a division of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services and serves as an integral part of its mission in support of all Virginians who have served in our military.