Cedar Rapids  Tourism Office

Veterans Memorial Building

Free and open to the public, visitors can stop in to learn about the role our veterans have played in shaping our community.

In the heart of Cedar Rapids sits the iconic Veterans Memorial Building. Free and open to the public, stop in and stroll through several galleries while learning about the role veterans have played in shaping the community. 

THE BUILDING

Opened in 1927, the Veterans Memorial Building serves as a true memorial to veterans. On the National Register of Historic Places, the building hosts several memorials  such as the Eternal Flame which was placed atop the building in the year 2000. 
Below the flame, you’ll see original architectural structures, including a Cenotaph, which borrows its look from the Arlington National Cemetery Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and evokes the spirit and appearance of the World War I memorial in Whitehall, London. Underneath the Cenotaph, is an observation deck and below that the coliseum — where famed performers like Metallica, LeAnn Rimes, Fats Domino, and Johnny Cash once rocked the stage.

 

   

THE GALLERIES

In conjunction with the 80th anniversary of D-Day, a World War II local showcase will open in the building’s east gallery in June 2024. A tribute to local WWII connections and designed to be a conversation starter for visitors and members of the community, this exhibition will explore how veterans from the Cedar Rapids area experienced both the European and Pacific theaters during the war. Visitors can read and hear oral histories of the men and women involved, view uniforms, flags, weapons and much more as they explore this showcase of a pivotal time in world history.
But don’t stop there, keep the tour going through galleries containing a variety of artifacts and memorabilia donated to the Veterans Memorial Commission Museum, such as the Horsky collection of model airplanes.

 

THE ARTIST

It’s no surprise local famed artist Grant Wood left his mark on the Veterans Memorial Building. In fact, the stained glass window that graces the main lobby is Grant Wood’s largest work of art. A World War I veteran himself, Wood designed the window before the creation of American Gothic which catapulted him to national fame. Standing at 24-feet tall and 20-feet wide, the Memorial Window portrays a central female figure representing the Republic — symbolically holding a palm branch of peace and a laurel wreath of victory — along with six stoic soldiers at the base. 
The window was drawn up (in full-scale design) by Wood who traveled to Munich, Germany where he got hands-on experience painting the stained glass. The window holds so much symbolism and detail it simply must be viewed in person to be truly appreciated. April through October, checkout Angles on the Window, a gallery talk focused on the intricate details of Wood’s masterpiece. More than a historic site, the building is home to several veterans groups and gathering spaces ready for lively activities! From celebrating family milestones, various performances, raising awareness for a cause, or simply taking time to relax and listen to tunes, stop in and explore all that the Veterans Memorial Building has to offer.

 

Veterans Memorial Building
50 2nd Ave Bridge, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401
www.cedar-rapids.org/veteransmemorial

Also featured in the Blog
Featured Partners
Veterans Memorial Building

Veterans Memorial Building

The Veterans Memorial Building is managed and maintained by the Veterans Memorial Commission. The Building is on the National…