Add Patriotism to Your Next Vacation Itinerary
5 Trips with Patriotic Themes
Joe Brooks says he learns something new every time he visits Gettysburg.
He has walked, driven and toured the Pennsylvania battlefield several times with friends and his family, but he always uncovers a fact, facet or parcel of ground about the largest battle of the Civil War on each visit.
"You go in and read the letters and see what these guys were thinking and what they were feeling, and then you go out and stand where they stood," said Brooks, a financial planner who lives in Waxhaw, North Carolina. "The magnitude of the battlefield blows you away. It's not a field. It's spread out over many miles. It's an experience."
During vacations that include visits to U.S. battlefields, parks and museums, you, too can reflect and remember those who served and the history of the country. Here are five ideas for trips to fill your patriotic travel ticket.
Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania
President Abraham Lincoln hallowed the ground surrounding this Pennsylvania town just four months after the three-day Civil War battle in which more than 50,000 Confederate and Union soldiers were killed, wounded or went missing.
Start your visit at the museum, which was updated and moved into a new building in 2008. Relive the battle through the cyclorama, a painting in the round from the 1880s that is 377 feet long and 42 feet high. Park entry is free, although there is a cost for the museum exhibits, film and cyclorama. (Consider taking a tour for an extra cost with a licensed guide, whose knowledge will go beyond the 1,400 monuments and markers.)
1195 Baltimore Pike, Suite 100, Gettysburg, Pa. 17325, 717-334-1124, nps.gov/gett
Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia
More than 400,000 members of the Armed Forces, veterans and their families are buried on this revered site just outside Washington, D.C. The land, once the home of Robert E. Lee, had its first burials during the Civil War. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier honors U.S. soldiers who died in wars of the 20thcentury, and the solemn and moving Changing of the Guard ceremony should not be missed. There is no charge to visit.
Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va. 22211, 877-907-8585, ArlingtonCemetery.mil
National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, Ohio
Check out more than 360 aircraft from the early days of flight to modern jets, such as an F-117 stealth fighter, as well as weapons, at this free 17-acre museum on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio. The museum's collection includes Bockscar, the B-29 Superfortress that dropped the atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Nagaski on August 9, 1945, and the Memphis Belle, the famed B-17 Flying Fortress depicted in the 1990 movie of the same name.
1100 Spaatz Street, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio 45433, 937-255-3286, NationalMuseum.af.mil
The National WWII Museum, Louisiana
Immerse yourself in interactive exhibits and artifacts that demonstrate what it was like to face the enemy in North Africa, Europe or the Pacific. Other exhibits and galleries show the struggles faced by those on the home front.
Attendance at the 15-year-old downtown New Orleans museum was at an all-time high in 2014 as more than 500,000 people visited. The museum charges admission.
945 Magazine Street, New Orleans, La. 70130, 504-528-1944, NationalWW2Museum.org
USS Arizona Memorial, Hawaii
The USS Arizona is still oozing oil from when the battleship was sunk during the Japanese surprise attack on Dec. 7, 1941. She went down with 1,177 of her crew, and the ship's hull remains a stark and poignant reminder of the attack that brought the U.S. into World War II.
Stop at the marble wall that lists the name of every person who died on the Arizona that morning. Admission is free; tickets can be reserved in advance.
1 Arizona Memorial Place, Honolulu, Hawaii 96818, 808-422-3399, nps.gov/valr
Photos: iStock, National WWII Museum | Lori Johnston is a freelance writer and former Associated Press reporter whose work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and on MSN.com, AOL.com, Bankrate.com and Forbes.com.