For many families, early November is one of the busiest and most significant times of the year! Not only does it bring us closer to the hectic holiday season, but it's also highlighted by Veterans Day, November 11, a time for all of us to reflect on and give thanks to those who have served our country.
One of the best ways to educate ourselves and our families about why the United States Military is so important is to visit sites that help us remember and commemorate our military history. When we visit we are reminded to be grateful for all this nation has to offer, both in terms of our freedoms and our national treasures. To honor Veterans Day, Veterans Advantage put together a list of some of the historical military destinations in America. We hope that you will find time to visit one of them this Veterans Day!
Independence Hall and The Liberty Bell
Philadelphia holds the distinction of being our nation’s birthplace, and the sites of its historic district recount many of the struggles and triumphs of the original colonies during the early years. Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell are at the center of America’s most historic square mile – an area that also boasts the Declaration House, the National Constitution Center, the Betsy Ross House, Franklin Court, and more.
New Hall, located at Fourth & Chestnut streets, was the first site for the Department of War under Henry Knox, its first Secretary (‘War’ was later changed to ‘Defense’). Today, it is a museum dedicated to the impact of the military on our nation’s major conflicts and accomplishments.
National Military Park of Gettysburg
A short drive down the road is historic Gettysburg, where you can find the National Military Park of Gettysburg, and relive one of the most decisive & bloodiest periods of the Civil War, as well as the setting for President Abraham Lincoln’s most memorable speeches.
Known as “Revolutionary City,” Colonial Williamsburg reflects the city’s role during one of America’s most defining periods. With performances adhering to the most historically accurate details throughout the year, visitors can witness the collapse of the royal government, join the debate over the Declaration of Independence and watch Washington and his troops march to Yorktown.
Thomas Jefferson's Monticello
Close by, there’s Monticello Monticello, home of President Thomas Jefferson, which is today a National Historic Landmark reflecting the vision of its creator, who is also widely known as the chief author of the American Declaration of Independence.
It was from Monticello, on January 18, 1803, that President Jefferson sent a confidential letter to Congress, asking for $2,500 to finance a trek to the American West--up the Missouri River and beyond to the Pacific Ocean -- a journey of discovery that would become the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
National Museum of the United States Air Force
The National Museum of the United States Air Force is the largest and oldest military aviation museum in the world, and hosts an impressive selection of Aerospace vehicles. You’ll also see the different kinds of missiles that have been used to defend our country throughout its history, and exhibits that highlight the different eras of aviation, including World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, and Vietnam.
Great for kids of all ages, this museum is sure to be a hit with the whole family, and is free to the public!
Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum
This unique museum, located in new York City on-board the Intrepid, an aircraft carrier that is a National Historic Landmark, and hosts many interactive exhibits suitable for children and adults.
Guided tours are available for families and Veterans, and you’ll experience many educational videos and get the chance to look at historical artifacts that document the evolution of our naval and aerospace defenses.
African American Civil War Memorial and Museum
Located in our nation’s capitol, this museum and memorial pays tribute to the largely unknown stories of the United States Colored Troops. Reenactors tell the stories of these soldiers, who fought to end slavery in the Civil War.
This historic structure in San Antonio, Texas, was the site of an epic battle in December 1835, during the war for Texas’s independence from Mexico. A great place to learn about the heroes that beat all odds to win their freedom, guests can tour The Alamo and discover artifacts and stories about James Bowie, William Travis, and famed frontiersman, Davy Crockett, who defended The Alamo for 13 days.
Navajo Nation Veteran’s Memorial Park
Navajo Codetalkers played a vital role in World War II, providing the United States military with a code that was never broken by enemies. Located in Window Rock, AZ, this monument was designed by the Navajo Nation, and educates about how the Navajo answered the call of duty in World War II and many other conflicts.
National Museum of the Marine Corps
Free to the public, you’ll find this museum in Triangle, Virginia. Visitors can learn how Marines came to be known as “devil dogs” and “leathernecks”, and how they have helped our armed forces throughout United States history. This museum contains many interactive exhibits spanning the many periods of American military history, including WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.
National Veterans Art Museum
For those who appreciate art, check out the National Veterans Art Museum in Chicago, Illinois. Here, you’ll find thousands of artworks that have been created by veterans to express their perception of combat. A testament to the lasting impact of war, this free museum tells the stories of those who have sacrificed so much to protect our freedoms.
New York Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall
When our military returned from Vietnam, they were not honored for their service - in fact some were disrespected and shamed. The New York Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall is a statement from the veterans and citizens of NYC that strives to bring respect and recognition to those who fought and lost their lives in Vietnam.
The monument is a “living” glass wall that is made up letters and poems that were sent home during Vietnam, and educates about the mindset of soldiers who served during this controversial conflict.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
While the subject matter and exhibits found in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is not suitable for all age groups, it carries an important message of why our military is important and the human rights and freedoms that our service members fight to protect.
Especially relevant with the resurgence of neo-nazi groups in the United States, the museum features stirring exhibits that document the mass oppression and murder that occurred under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party that led to WWII. A new exhibit also explains the meaning of nazi symbols that are once again being used in present-day America.
Will you visit any of these historical destinations this Veterans Day? Have you in the past? What memories did you make and what did you learn about the history of America's armed forces?