Memorial Day in Our National Parks

This week we’ve covered a variety of ways to honor the fallen on Memorial Day, from WOD with Warriors to Carry the Load to ceremonies in Arlington National cemetery and other cemeteries across the country. There are, however, a number of other ways to remember those who fought and died for this country, one of which is to visit the battlefields, monuments, and other sites managed by our National Park Service.

Here are a few of the places open to visit this Memorial Day:

  • Yorktown Battlefield – Yorktown Battlefield, in Yorktown, Virginia, is the location of the last major battle of the Revolutionary War. Learn about the Siege of Yorktown and the house where the “Articles of Capitulation” were drafted, effectively ending the war.
  • Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial­ – This memorial honors the sacrifices of the War of 1812. Each year, this location holds a “Salute to the Troops” event. This year the event will take place on Saturday, the 24th, and the theme is “Gold Star Children.” Two showings of a documentary with the same name will occur at 11:30am and 2:30 pm and a ceremony is scheduled for 1pm.
  • Andersonville National Historic Site – Located in South Georgia, Andersonville was a Confederate prison where almost 13,000 Union soldiers died. It is also home of the National Prisoner of War Museum. Flags will be placed on the graves in Andersonville National Cemetery on Friday and Saturday and an official Memorial Day ceremony will begin Sunday at 2pm.
  • Aleutian WWII Museum – Located on Amaknak Island in the Aleutian chain, this museum holds the story of the only piece of American soil to be occupied by enemy forces in WWII.
  • Korean War Veterans Memorial – This testament to those who fought in the oft-termed “forgotten war” will take your breath away. Be sure to check out the link to the memorial’s “history and culture” page and read the thank you letters written by Korean high school students to the Korean War veterans they interviewed.
  • Chalmette National Cemetery – VFW Post 3798 will lead a tribute to the Vietnam Veterans buried in this cemetery, located on the site of 1815 Battle of New Orleans, at 12:30pm on Sunday.
  • Flight 93 Memorial – If you’re close to Pennsylvania, you can visit this memorial to those citizen heroes who fought so valiantly when the enemy came knocking at our front door. Their story will be told from 1-1:30pm on Memorial Day with a moment of silence from 2:45-3:00pm.

There are many more, of course. From Ranger-led tours and talks to demonstrations of how to tend to musket wounds, live artillery fire, and full on reenactments and “living history” events, like the ones taking place all weekend as Gettysburg, there are a host of places to recognize and remember the sacrifices of all of the heroes who built and continue to maintain this great nation. You can search all the events happening this weekend here.

Active Duty Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, National Guard, and Reserve and their families can receive a free entry pass good for one year. Present your CAC or DoD Form 1173 at any Federal recreation site that charges an “entrance or amenity” fee. Further details can be found here.

Wounded veterans may also be able to obtain a free lifetime pass. The “Access Pass” is for U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have a permanent disability which “severely limits one or more life activities.” VA disability documents are among the accepted forms of documentation. Further details can be found here.

© 2014, Sarah Maples. All rights reserved.

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