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Military History in National Parks

National parks are compelling places to honor and reflect upon our nation’s military history.
  • Our Places
    National parks preserve the places and stories of the American military and provide those in the military community opportunities to connect to our nation’s beautiful landscapes.
  • Our Stories
    From memorials to monuments, some of our most iconic national parks commemorate those who have served, keeping alive the history of our military.
  • NPF's Commitment
    The National Park Foundation supports programs and projects that recognize and reflect military histories and stories, past and present, in our parks.

Commemorating Military History

National parks have always had strong ties to the military – until the establishment of the National Park Service (NPS) 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 the places 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 work in many of our areas of work, from preserving history and culture to envisioning parks of the future, supports parks which preserve and share these multifaceted histories. Together with NPS, we are working 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 supports national parks, programs, and projects 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
NPF’s History & Culture programs support 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
  • Ranger dressed in a military uniform gives a speech in front of a historic photo of Charles Young
    Project
    Preserving Captain Charles Young's Home
    NPF played a significant role in creating Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument through our African American Experience Fund (AAEF). Through AAEF, NPF provided the necessary funding to purchase the history property from Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.’s Friendship Foundation.
  • Jon Knox poses for a photo with a fish he caught.
    Project
    Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing
    NPF’s ParkVentures program grant supported Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing in Shenandoah National Park, providing disabled veterans a space for healing and community.
  • Two historic cannons lie in the foreground. In the background, a white stone memorial
    Project
    Interpreting Vicksburg
    NPF supported 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 dry, grassy plain slopes downwards toward the visitor center
    Project
    Welcoming Visitors to Little Bighorn
    NPF, with a generous gift from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, supported a multi-year project to construct a new visitor center at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. The visitor center will better protect museum collections and provide greater access to exhibits and enhanced functionality, as well as new areas for interpretive and educational programs.
  • Close up of a blue biplane with yellow wings
    Project
    Launching an Aviation Discovery Lab
    Thanks to a grant 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.
  • Historical wooden naval apothecary kit with glass vials
    Project
    Protecting Artifacts
    NPF supported the expansion of the visitor center at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, home to one over 81,000 documents and objects. The dramatic transformation of the visitor center will allow fragile artifacts and other items to be rendered in 3D for visitors to explore.
  • Historic black and white image of vehicles and barracks at Camp Nelson National Monument
    Project
    Establishing Camp Nelson National Monument
    In partnership with the American Battlefield Trust, NPF facilitated the donation of nearly 382 acres to help establish Camp Nelson National Monument, preserving the site that was a Union Army recruitment and training center for African American soldiers and as a camp for freed people during the Civil War.
Related Stories
Two people fly fish along a stony river
Story
"I Was Hooked"
"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.
Learn More about "I Was Hooked"
  • A single-story ranch-style house with light brown brick and teal siding
    Parks
    Preserving Veterans Stories
    Explore the lives of veterans whose stories are preserved and shared in national parks across the country.
  • A line of roses rest against an stone wall, engraved with names
    Parks
    Visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
    Learn more about D.C.’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial, including the powerful symbolism enshrined within the national park site.
Behind glass, a ring of vintage keys
Be Part of the Past and Future of Our Parks

You can help improve access to places, cultural heritage, and stories that give Americans a stronger connection to our country.  Support NPF’s work around preserving the history and culture that live within our national parks.

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