Honor the Fallen and Remember the Brave This Memorial Day

May 17, 2016NPF Blog

Every May, our nation commemorates those who have died while serving in our armed forces by organizing parades, picnics, and visits to cemeteries and national memorials across the country.

This year, honor those brave men and women by exploring the country’s national parks, many of which are home to preserved historic sites, monuments, and memorials dedicated to celebrating our military history. We invite you to experience the history woven into national parks across the nation as we highlight four iconic parks below.

Gettysburg National Military Park

A canon pointing out over a rock wall towards the sunset at Gettysburg National Battlefield

The bloodiest battle of the civil war, which served as inspiration for Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, was fought on the beautiful grassy knolls of this Pennsylvania battlefield.

Today, travel back in time while touring the park, whether your exploration is self-guided or with a licensed battlefield guide. Start at the National Park Service Museum and walk the trails on foot or experience them on horseback. There are also designated hiking trails and cycling trails, as well as campgrounds and specialized park events. 

End your visit with a stop at Soldiers National Cemetery, the resting place for many Union soldiers as well as those who perished in all American wars since 1865. Paved avenues between the cemetery, the central annex, and the memorial offer a quiet venue to contemplate the great sacrifice of our armed forces.

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve

Chalmette National Cemetery at Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve
National Park Service

This national park is home to six sites scattered across southern Louisiana. Each site tells a unique story of the Pelican State, and the Chalmette National Cemetery is no exception. Established in 1864 for fallen Union soldiers who died in Louisiana during the Civil War, this cemetery now contains over 14,000 headstones that mark the gravesites for veterans of the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, and the Vietnam War.

These hallowed grounds also serve as the as the final resting place for four Americans who fought in the War of 1812. One of these soldiers took part in the Battle of the New Orleans – the pivotal final battle that sealed America’s triumph over the British in 1815. The cemetery is located just downriver from Chalmette Battlefield where this victory took place.

Each Memorial Day, volunteers and staff place flags at every headstone in remembrance. You can take part in the memorial services this year and pay tribute to the lives lost by visiting this national historical site.  

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Vietnam Memorial Wall with the Washington Monument in the back at night
Marc Phipps, Share the Experience

Our nation's capital is home to many significant historical monuments and national memorials. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, open 24 hours a day, honors lives lost during one of the most controversial wars in our country’s history. Viewing the majestic black wall can be an extremely emotional experience for visitors.

The "wall that heals" displays names of over 58,000 servicemen and women who gave their lives during the Vietnam conflict. Names are listed in chronological order, and catalogs are located at the entrance of the park to aid visitors in locating specific names. You can also visit "The Three Servicemen" statue and the Vietnam Women's Memorial. 

World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument

USS Arizona Memorial over the water at World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument

USS Arizona Memorial

National Park Service

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people visit Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. There, they learn about the U.S. entry into World War II and hear stories surrounding other events in the Pacific War, such as the battles in the Aleutians and the internment of Japanese Americans.

Pearl Harbor is one of three locations designated part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, with the others located in California’s Aleutian Islands Newell. The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center features exhibit galleries, a memorial theater, and a remembrance circle. From here, visitors can access multiple historical sites: USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, the Battleship Missouri Memorial, and the Pacific Aviation Museum.

The most famous site to experience is the USS Arizona Memorial, honoring the 1,177 crewmen who perished during the attack on the USS Arizona. Constructed around the sunken wreckage, this memorial is an actual tomb for the 900 servicemen still trapped within the hull of the ship.

Take a moment this Memorial Day weekend to thank those who have served and protected our great nation. If you visit a national memorial, be sure to share your reflections, photos, and experiences with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr by using #FindYourPark / #EncuentraTuParque and tagging us (@GoParks).

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