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Commemorating Military History

National parks have always had strong ties to the military. In fact, when the National Park Service (NPS) was established in 1916, many of the parks’ first rangers were members of the U.S. Calvary. During times of war, some park lands were set aside for the training and care of military personnel. National parks mark where clashes took place, where soldiers and their families slept and lived, and where we now go to remember and reflect upon our military, past and present.

The National Park Foundation (NPF)’s mission to preserve history and culture in parks, funds projects that aim to expand storytelling in our parks, including our American military history, to help share a more comprehensive history of the U.S.

NPF's Work in This Space

NPF funds projects within national parks that highlight America’s military history, as well as supports and honors those who have and continue to serve our country.

exhibit in park visitor center
Area of Work
History & Culture
History & Culture
Funds dynamic educational programs, professional development opportunities, rehabilitation of historic sites, and the preservation of artifacts and places that help us better understand America today by fully reflecting our past.
Learn More about History & Culture
  • People looking in an exhibit case.
    Inclusive Storytelling
    Funds projects that support more comprehensive narratives throughout parks, featuring the stories, experiences, and interpretations of communities whose voices and contributions have been excluded from the American story.
  • A night, an illuminated path leads to a gate
    NPS Mellon Humanities Fellowship
    Supports the work of humanities scholars whose research and analysis of the complex and fascinating histories in and around our parks helps us discover untold perspectives and new voices.
  • a group of people in kayaks on a lake
    Area of Work
    Outdoor Exploration
    Supports opportunities for everyone to create and strengthen life-long relationships with national parks.
  • Two men in fishing gear fly fishing
    Helps engage historically excluded communities through outdoor recreation in national parks by supporting projects that focus on representation, accessibility, and interpretation.

Recent Projects

Explore just some of the projects supported by NPF that help preserve and share the stories of military history in our national parks.

Ranger dressed in a military uniform gives a speech in front of a historic photo of Charles Young
Establishing New Parks
NPF helped establish new national park sites across the country, including Camp Nelson National Monument, a site that was a Union Army recruitment and training center for African American soldiers and a refugee camp during the Civil War, and Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument, which preserves the home and post-Civil War military legacy of Col. Charles Young, a distinguished officer in the U.S. Army.
  • An old brick building surrounded by a wooden fence
    Manassas National Battlefield Park
    Highlighting Diverse Communities at the Heart of the Manassas Battlefield
    An Inclusive Storytelling grant is supporting expanded interpretation at Manassas National Battlefield Park by including the stories of Groveton, a diverse 19th-century community in the heart of the battlefield. The park hired an intern to research the people (focusing on women, African American, and Indigenous people) who lived on the battlefield, resulting in new waysides to illuminate the experiences and voices of the residents of Groveton before, during, and after the Civil War. And a newly constructed blacksmith shop on the site of a historic blacksmith shop is helping visually evoke the village and inform visitors about its significance.
  • Springfield Armory National Historical Site and Minute Man National Historical Park
    Rehabilitating Historic Infrastructure
    An NPF Service Corps grant is supporting Springfield Armory National Historic Site and Minute Man National Historical Park in implementing a historic preservation crew at both sites to focus on rehabilitating historic infrastructure.
  • A glass case houses a black and white image of a woman, plus small items
    Andersonville National Historic Site
    Preserving Andersonville
    An NPF Women in Parks grant facilitated research at Andersonville National Historic Site, leading to a temporary exhibit in the National Prisoner of War Museum. The exhibit highlighted the crucial role of women’s groups like the Woman’s Relief Corps and the Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic in preserving and commemorating the site’s history.
  • Jon Knox poses for a photo with a fish he caught.
    Working with Veterans in Parks
    NPF supports projects that ensure everyone can find their connections to national parks, including military veterans. A ParkVentures grant supported Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing in Shenandoah National Park, while NPF Women in Parks grants have supported scuba diving projects for women military veteran divers in Biscayne National Park. A grant to Fort McHenry National Monument & Historic Shrine helped the park invite veterans and their families to an all-day social event, including guided kayaking tours and nature hikes.
  • Two historic cannons lie in the foreground. In the background, a white stone memorial
    Vicksburg National Military Park
    Interpreting Vicksburg
    NPF funded the installation of new interpretive displays at Vicksburg National Military Park to help visitors understand significant moments in the Vicksburg campaign during the Civil War. A NPS Mellon Humanities Fellow is expanding the park’s research, understanding, and interpretation of the United States Colored Troops (USCT), Federal occupation, and Reconstruction period in Vicksburg.
  • Close up of a blue biplane with yellow wings
    Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site
    Launching an Aviation Discovery Lab
    Thanks to support from the Fund II Foundation, NPF’s African American Experience Fund supported a new Discovery Lab at Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site. The lab will serve as a central location for aviation research, education, training, and public programming.
  • A group of kids raise their hands in front of a historic mission
    Guilford Courthouse National Military Park
    Connecting Students to Military History Sites
    NPF’s Open OutDoors for Kids program connects children to their culture and heritage, enhances hands-on learning opportunities, and deepens their connections to the natural world through field trips to and virtual experiences of national park sites, including those which preserve our military history. A 2023 Open OutDoors for Kids grant enabled students to visit North Carolina’s Guilford Courthouse National Military Park to learn more about the American Revolution.
  • A dry, grassy plain slopes downwards toward the visitor center
    Parks of the Future
    Transforming Visitor Centers
    NPF is helping parks plan for the future, including enhancing the visitor experience through immersive, engaging visitor centers. With a generous gift from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, NPF is helping Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument construct a new visitor center. NPF also partnered with the Gettysburg Foundation to transform the Gettysburg Lincoln Railroad Station into a visitor destination and educational experience at Gettysburg National Military Park. An expansion of the visitor center at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield will allow fragile artifacts and other items to be rendered in 3D for visitors to explore.

Related Stories

  • A single-story ranch-style house with light brown brick and teal siding
    Preserving Veterans Stories
    Explore the lives of veterans whose stories are preserved and shared in national parks across the country.
  • Two people fly fish along a stony river
    "I was Hooked"
    Join participants of Project Healing Waters, a project supported by NPF’s ParkVentures program which expands veteran services in parks, as they learn fly-fishing techniques in Shenandoah National Park.
  • 2 scuba divers underwater
    Sea Sisters
    Meet the “Sea Sisters,” teams of veterans and professional diverse who’ve received specialty training, as they embarked on dives at Biscayne National Park. Together in 2021, the “sea sisters” removed a total of 587 pounds of marine debris from the park’s sea floor.
  • A line of roses rest against an stone wall, engraved with names
    Visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
    Learn more about D.C.’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial, including the powerful symbolism enshrined within the national park site.