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Remembering the Fallen: 13 National Parks to Visit in Honor of Memorial Day

As Memorial Day approaches (May 27th), it’s a good time to reflect and remember the brave men and women who have honorably paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country and providing their fellow Americans with the freedoms they enjoy daily.

There are thirteen iconic National Historic Parks and Memorials that deserve to be visited. These memorials and monuments are dedicated to members of the armed forces, recognize pivotal battles in the American Revolutionary and Civil Wars, and remind us that freedom isn’t free. 

1. Charles Young Buffalo Soldier National Monument

charles young buffalo soldier monument
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On March 25, 2013, then-President Barack Obama designated the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Wilberforce, Ohio. This monument is a testament to the bravery and sacrifice of Charles Young, a decorated veteran of the Indian Wars. Despite facing overt racism, Young’s determination and courage propelled him through the military ranks, making him a well-respected leader of his time. 

This national monument is open all year round, excluding national holidays, and is free for all those who visit. 

2. Valley Forge National Historical Park

national arch valley forge monument
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The Valley Forge National Historical Park in King of Prussia, PA, was established to honor the brave Continental soldiers who lost their lives during the harsh winter of 1777-1778 while encamped there. Tourists can access 3,500 acres of meadows and woodlands and the monuments commemorating the sacrifices of the Revolutionary War veterans. 

Visitors can tour the park Sun-Sat, 9 AM to 5 PM, at no cost. 

3. Antietam National Battlefield

antietam national park
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The Battle of Antietam, or Sharpsburg, occurred on September 17, 1862, and led to President Abraham Lincoln’s issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation. This fateful battle saw the loss of over 4,000 soldiers after Confederate General Robert E. Lee decided to invade the North. 

If you find yourself near Sharpsburg, Maryland, around Memorial Day, stop by this historic site and learn more about the Civil War for $10.00 per person.

4. Vietnam Veterans National Memorial

vietnam veterans memorial
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The Vietnam Veterans National Memorial is located in Washington, D.C., and was constructed to honor the men and women who lost their lives during the Vietnam War. The memorial is a simple and refined monument that chronologically lists the names of 58,318 Americans who served their country.

The memorial also includes the “Three Servicemen” statue and the Vietnam Women’s Memorial, which are open all year round and free to the public. 

5. Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park

palo alto battlefield
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As the only National Park system unit dedicated to preserving the memory and legacy of the US-Mexican War, the Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park preserves the battle site and runs history tours that describe the battle. 

The 1846 battle was the first two-year war between the U.S. and Mexico, which shaped and changed the U.S. landscape. The Brownsville, Texas, park is open from 8 AM to 5 PM daily and is free to tour.  

6. Colonial National Historical Park

colonial national historical park
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In 1607, Jamestown, Virginia, was established as the first English settlement in what would later become The United States of America. This newly created society brought three distinct cultures together–European, Virginia-Indian, and African. On October 19, 1781, the Continental Army, with the help of the French, defeated Great Britain at Yorktown in the last major battle of the Revolutionary War.

The Colonial National Historical Park memorializes this piece of American history. The park district of Historic Jamestown is open to the public from 9 AM to 5 PM daily and costs $15 per person.

7. Gettysburg National Military Park

gettysburg national park
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What better way to honor our fallen soldiers than to visit the hallowed grounds of Gettysburg National Military Park? The American Civil War’s most significant and bloodiest battle was waged in Gettysburg, resulting in a Union victory against General Lee’s second invasion of the Northern states. 

The infamous battlefield is free to visit from sunrise to sunset; however, if you’d like to take a guided tour via bus or car, the park has licensed guides who will lead the way for a fee. 

8. Korean War Veterans Memorial

korean war veterans memorial
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The Korean War Veterans Memorial stands not far from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.. From 1950 to 1953, American men and women served and gave their lives alongside the United Nations Forces in Korea to take a stand against what was considered a threat to democracy here at home and worldwide. 

The park includes a Wall of Remembrance and 19 stainless steel statues commemorating the sacrifices of the millions of Americans and allied partners who fought during the conflict. The park is open 24 hours a day, all year round, and is free to the public. 

9. Vicksburg National Military Park

vicksburg national park
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Vicksburg National Military Park commemorates the lives of the soldiers who perished during the American Civil War. Vicksburg was a fortress guarding the Mighty Mississippi and is often referred to as the “Gibraltar of the Confederacy.” 

Roughly 400,000 people walk the grounds of the famous Civil War battle annually to pay their respects and learn more about this pivotal piece of combat history. A standard entrance pass costs $10 per person or $20 per vehicle. 

10. Saratoga National Historical Park

saratoga national historical park
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Saratoga National Historical Park, the site where American and British forces clashed, offers tours of the battlefield, historic monuments, and forest trails. The Battle of Saratoga ranks among the fifteen most decisive battles on the world’s stage. 

The 1777 battle resulted in the British Army surrendering for the first time in world history, France joining the side of the Continental Army, and ultimately helping lead the Americans to victory.  The park in Stillwater, NY, is free to the public year-round. 

11. World War II Memorial

world war ii memorial
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In the center of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., sits the WWII Memorial, commemorating the service of 16 million members of the American Armed Forces, the countless millions who worked tirelessly on the homefront, and the 400,000 soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice. 

The memorial’s stone architecture and bronze sculptures recognize how Americans served and honor those who fell while eliminating tyranny around the globe and restoring freedoms. The park is open 24 hours a day and is free for all visitors. 

12. Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

castillo de san marcos florida
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Castillo de San Marcos, in Florida, is the oldest Spanish-built fort in the United States. The Spanish Empire built the fortress over 340 years ago from coquina, light and porous shell-stone rock, and limestone. They erected it to protect their settlement of St. Augustine from treasure-seeking pirates.

Today, visitors can tour the fortress for $15 a person all year round, excluding Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. 

13. Minute Man National Historical Park

minute man national park
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The Minute Man National Historical Park was established to pay homage to American Revolutionary soldiers. The park is home to several battle sites, including Concord and Lexington. Here, the battles are “brought to life” for all those who visit, witnessing the spot where, on April 19, 1775, Revolutionary militia men fired the famous “shot heard ’round the world.”

Visitors to the park can stop at the Hartwell Tavern, now a living history center, and learn about the “Second Revolution” while exploring Nathaniel Hawthorne’s home, all at no cost. 

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With a passion for travel, great food, and beautiful art, Julie put aside her 15-year career in the tech industry and dove head-first into a more creative sphere. Utilizing her degree in Communications, she is pursuing freelance writing. An avid traveler, Julie has experience writing and documenting the amazing spots she has visited and explored, the delicious food she has tasted, and the incredible art she has admired and purchased! When she’s not writing, she can be spotted around Austin, TX, at various art gallery openings, having a delicious meal with her husband and friends, and playing with her two dogs.