It’s Memorial Day weekend, one that is full of meaning. Formerly known as Decoration Day, begun after the Civil War as a day to decorate the graves of the fallen soldiers. As the years have gone by, it has become a national day of remembrance for those who have also lost their lives on the battlefields of foreign wars. Now it is also a day of remembrance for first responders in terror attacks on our home soil as well a for sung and unsung heroes.
May I have your permission for a moment to encourage you to pass the importance of this day along to the next generation, and the future generations. How will they know if we don’t tell them or show them? Can we count on schools to educate and raise the flag of patriotism?
Where can you take your children or grandchildren to have some fun and light a spark in them? There is nothing that compares to being in the very place where monumental events happened. Here’s a couple of ideas to get you started walking down the halls of history. And we’ll start at the beginning.
Visit the Historic Triangle
Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown are the three towns that make up the Historic Triangle. You can follow our nation’s journey to freedom in each one of these colonial towns.
The whole thing began in 1606 when a group of people was granted a charter to form an English colony in the New World along the Chesapeake. Arriving on three ships, in 1607, they sailed up the river to build the first permanent settlement. Since it was King James I, who gave them the charter they honored him by naming the town and the river in his honor: Jamestown and the James River.
Fast forward 92 years to 1699 when the colony moved to Williamsburg and it became the capital of Great Britain’s province in the New World. Then 77 years later in 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed, and it was evident there was gonna be a revolution. Five years later, in 1781, the Continental Army defeated Cornwallis and ending the war.
There are only 23 miles and 175 years from the first permanent colony in the New World to the defeat of General Cornwallis and the end of the Revolutionary War and the beginning of a new nation.
Jamestown and Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia
Visit Jamestown Virginia to see a replica of the three ships that brought the Virginia Company settlers to the New World. Then travel to Colonial Williamsburg is where you can see the world’s largest living-history museum. Enter into Colonial life with actors dressed in period costume, walk the halls of history, and participate in hands-on activities. Give the whole family an experience they will never forget, and talk about for years to come. And, the tricky best part is you’ll all be learning something together.
Speaking of Yorktown, visit the site of the last battle of the Revolutionary War. This battlefield is where the Americans and their friends, the French, besieged the British Army and leading to the surrender of Cornwallis and ending the war. If you have ancestors who fought here, as I do, this would be a perfect place to tell your children the story of their ancestor.
Historic Philadephia, PA
How about visiting Philadelphia, the birthplace of our nation. The Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Betsy Ross’s home, Ben Franklin Museum. Eat a Philly Cheese Steak sandwich. Get immersed and interactive with history at the Museum of American Revolution.
Going to our nation’s capital to see our nation’s capital, where this experiment in freedom progressed. Together you can learn about the fight for independence from England and the struggle to establish our country as ‘One Nation Under God.’ Visit Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington. Spend time at Arlington National Cemetery, and be there at sundown for the flag lowering ceremony at the Iwo Jima Memorial. Take a tour of the White House, Smithsonian Museums, and the great monuments to our founding fathers, foreign wars, and great national heroes and massive statues. Who doesn’t have goosebumps standing before Abraham Lincoln and reading his Gettysburg address?
Gettysburg National Battlefield
Take your family to see where the Battle of Gettysburg happened. Learn on this very spot how it was the turning point in the war between the north and the south. Check out the website to plan your visit around one of the living history programs held every weekend from April to October.
National World War II Museum, New Orleans LA
This museum complex should be on everyone’s schedule. The history of World War II is on multimedia display. I’ve written about this museum and here are some links to those articles.
Let’s grab the attention, hearts and minds of young people early in life and give them a sense of what is possible when men and women give their lives to a higher cause. Let’s teach them the lessons they need to know from the past. Our country needs the next generation and future generations to learn about our nation’s history, so they aren’t doomed to repeat the mistakes made in the past. I hope I’ve demonstrated that there is fun to be had at the same time as learning and absorbing vital lessons.
I’ve taken you down the halls of history from the beginning of our country: the Revolution that started a War and ended in freedom from Great Britain, the Civil War, and World War II. Did I miss something that should have been here? Of course, it’s just one article. I’m just trying to remind you that there are so many opportunities to excite and inspire children to want to know more. These are all destinations where history comes to life, and you can see them first hand. Make a vacation out of it. This is what I’m passionate about. I hope you are too.
Did you know I offer free travel design consultations? As a travel designer, I help people who are interested in learning more about culture and history, whether it’s their own ancestral history or world history, and bringing it to life in the place where it happened.
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