Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future: Walmart Pays Tribute to Our Fallen Heroes

A Soldier's Journey Sculpture at WWI Memorial

By Julie Gehrki, Vice President of Philanthropy, Walmart

Our commitment to honoring service members has been part of Walmart’s DNA since the company’s beginning. Founder Sam Walton served in the U.S. Army, and his dedication to serving those who served deeply influenced our corporate values as well as our philanthropic giving over the years.

In 2019, Walmart provided an initial $1 million grant to fund the development of the National World War I Memorial, which opened in Washington D.C. in 2021. In 2022, we expanded on that commitment with a $250,000 grant to the United States Federation of the World Wars, also known as The Doughboy Foundation.

While Walmart’s latest grant supports a series of programming and tools, perhaps the most anticipated contribution is the long-awaited installation of “A Soldier’s Journey.” The memorial honors the 4.7 million American men and women who served in World War I — including the more than 116,000 fallen. It’s a central feature to the World War I Memorial, which was designed by Fayetteville, Arkansas, native Joe Weishaar, a 2013 graduate of University of Arkansas’ Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design.

“Even though it’s a memorial that will forever live in Washington, it has its roots in every small town that I’ve ever known and was championed by my friends and family back home every step of the way. I couldn’t have done it without their endless and unwavering support,” Weishaar shared.

The 58.5-foot bronze wall, sculpted by artist Sabin Howard, stands as the largest freestanding high-relief bronze in the western hemisphere. With its cascading fountains and quotes from the men and women who served in World War I, ‘A Soldier’s Journey’ will be a place for quiet contemplation. With technological components that have never been applied to a memorial at such scale, it will also be, as Joe shared, “a memorial of the 21st century.” It’s set to be unveiled this September, and Walmart is honored to be the title sponsor of the memorial’s official dedication.

WWI Memorial Peace Fountain

“Walmart's gift was instrumental in inspiring other companies and individuals to help complete this great memorial,” said Dan Dayton, Chairman and CEO of the Doughboy Foundation. “Their support is also helping to make the National WWI Memorial accessible to families across the country through experiential visitor programming like our immersive smartphone apps and the daily sounding of Taps at 5 p.m. which is streamed online in honor of all U.S. veterans and active military personnel.”

I’m proud to work for a company dedicated to keeping the memory alive of those who served and never came home — and to supporting efforts like the National World War I Memorial. Remembering them is our duty; honoring them is our privilege.

As Memorial Day approaches, we invite you to visit the National World War I Memorial — a place for reflection, honor and gratitude — in person or virtually. You can also learn about additional ways to honor our fallen service members and their families through Spark Good’s Round Up and Registry programs.