Creating the Stars on CIA's Memorial Wall
In the CIA’s Original Headquarters Building lobby, 103 stars are now engraved on the smooth, white marble walls. They serve as a silent tribute to CIA officers who gave their lives in pursuit of the CIA mission, and they are works of remarkable craftsmanship and artistry. On May 21, the Agency held its annual commemorative ceremony during which the names of the fallen are read aloud for their colleagues and family members.
Master stone carver Harold Vogel created the original design for the Memorial Wall to emphasize the unity of the stars, standing as a field. Vogel’s goal was to make an officer’s memory an integral part of the building, which represents the Agency’s mission. The original 31 stars were approved by Director William E. Colby in April 1974, and three months later, Vogel carved the Memorial.No ceremony was held; no pictures were taken—the stars and inscription simply appeared.
Stone carver Tim Johnston, who learned his craft as an apprentice to Vogel, carved his first star into the wall in 1989. Johnson uses Vogel’s original 1974 template—which, when not in use, is locked in a safe. Each star is first drawn by hand, using a stencil like the one pictured above. Johnson uses both a pneumatic air hammer and a chisel to carve out the traced pattern. After he finishes carving the star, he cleans the dust and sprays the star dark gray. The whole process takes Johnston about 30 minutes.
To learn more about the Agency’s Memorial Wall, see the related stories and publication below.
- The Memorial Wall Publication
- Commemoration of the Dead at CIA
- Remembering CIA’s Heroes: Douglas S. Mackiernan