The land of the free and the home of the brave is no cliche. I have compiled a short list of what many consider must see military/patriotic travel destinations. I haven’t been to all these locations so I did some research and took some opinions. In almost every case the lives sacrificed in our behalf during different eras have shaped the world into what it is today. In no particular order:
1. Boston MA
Boston prides itself on its role in the Revolutionary War and its hometown heroes like Paul Revere and John F. Kennedy with numerous museums, historic sites, monuments, and special events. Its compact downtown area ensures that you can see most of the important historic sites in a couple of days, but there’s also enough in the surrounding area to keep you occupied on a longer trip. I have actually been to “bean town” and it is a fantastic place to visit you can feel the spirit of the founding fathers as you walk the streets and see the sights.
2. Colonial Williamsburg Virginia
Travel back in time 250 years and experience American colonial life as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson lived it by visiting the historic recreation town of Colonial Williamsburg, VA. Williamsburg is the largest outdoor living history museum in the country. It offers such a fantastic glimpse of early American life and how things were built and run it is amazing to see how far we have come.
3. Philadelphia, PA
The city of brotherly love also loves visitors—and shows it too. Liberty Bell or Independence Hall Gettysburg PA; Valley Forge, PA
Because Philly is between two huge tourist meccas, New York City and Washington, D.C., it can be overlooked. But don’t forget the many free historic attractions, in fact most of Philadelphia’s top patriotic attractions are free year-round, including Independence National Historic Park, home to Independence Hall; the Liberty Bell; Christ Church Burial Ground, where Ben Franklin is buried; and many other important Revolutionary War structures.
4. Washington DC
Our nation’s capitol is a spot every American should plan on visiting. It is overflowing with the largest number of patriotic attractions, most of which are free, if that isn’t American I don’t know what is. Travelers have the opportunity to see and attend in short the largest collection of American historical sites anywhere. The short list includes the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, WWII Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, and Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Don’t forget the National Mall- with 9 World Class museums with the Capital on one end and the Washington Monument on the other. The White House is just two blocks away as well. I have been to DC a couple times and growing up on the West Coast I didn’t get to walk past the constitution and Bill of Rights as a 5th grader, it made the experience even more special and moving to understand better what those items represent and how they are more then just words on paper.
5. Arlington VA
In and around Arlington there are also many historic and patriotic sites. First of which is Arlington National Cemetery. I visited there on a trip to DC, they are very close. The tomb of the unknown soldier is a solemn and reverent place, to know there are many, who have given the lives in our behalf that we don’t have names for. The other sites include Mt. Vernon- which is gorgeous, after visiting there I understood why George Washington tried to get back home as often as he could.
6. Pearl Harbor, Oahu HI
If you aren’t aware of what transpired on December 7, 1941 then you didn’t attend elementary school or you have been stuck in a cave for 68 years. It is the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor Hawaii. Among the many ships sunk, destroyed or damaged 15 ships and destroyed 188 airplanes. Among them on the USS Arizona 1,177 crew members perished, making it the greatest loss of life on any U.S. warship in American history. Today above the resting place of that ship, a memorial has been erected and is a place of profound reverence and you can still see oil coming up from the ship on the surface of the water.
7. Normandy France
What to say in a paragraph about D-Day and the liberation of Europe. Lets just say when I visited this area in France, the people were so kind and grateful for their freedom, they seem to know that unless America had stepped in and stopped the Nazis they may be speaking German instead of French. The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial is something every American should see. I know it is a long way from home but worth the trip, no question. In a previous blog post I have a picture of me there, it just doesn’t do the location justice, nearly 10,000 graves, facing West toward the United States and many of the crosses bear the inscription for unknown soldiers. It reads ‘Here rests in honoured glory a comrade in arms known but to God’.
8. New York City, NY
A travel destination for millions every year The Big Apple is known throughout the world as the City that never sleeps. Of course for our purposes here on patriotic American sites to see we know the Statue of Liberty, a gift from France on America’s 100th birthday is there. Kind of a thank you gift for saving them from the Nazis I always thought. In addition you do not want to miss a piece of American history you can find no where else- Ellis Island. Having visited this site and seen the pictures and to feel as you stand there the sheer number of people looking for a better life to have passed through that place, over 12 million immigrants came with hopes and dreams of their own American Dream. The site is part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. Don’t miss it.
9. Baltimore MD
Birthplace of the National Anthem, simple as that! Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the Star-Spangled Banner during the Battle of Baltimore, September 13-14, 1814. The valiant defense of the fort by 1,000 dedicated Americans kept the flag flying through the night into the morning. You probably know the words to the first verse but there are a few others, from the last verse these words say why this place is special.
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
10. Gettysburg, PA
July 1-3, 1863 was the Battle of Gettysburg, it was the battle with the largest number of casualties in the American Civil War. It is considered the turning point where the Union started the advance of the Confederacy toward the north. Between 46,000 and 51,000 Americans were casualties in the three-day battle. That November, President Lincoln used the dedication ceremony for the Gettysburg National Cemetery to honor the fallen and redefine the purpose of the war in his historic Gettysburg Address. A reminder of why this address is so amazing is easy to see from the 3 paragraphs below. It sums up America’s Credo with great accuracy.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate…we can not consecrate…we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government: of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.