For almost 150 years, Memorial Day has been set aside for Americans to honor their fallen soldiers, first instituted as a national holiday after the Civil War. Unbeknownst to many, the National Park Service has the honor of preserving battlefields, military parks, and historic sites that commemorate and honor the service of American veterans.
This Memorial Day, what better way to honor those who served their country than to visit a national military/battlefield park that preserves the places where they fought? Here are three incredibly scenic spots across the country that will make for a beautiful day outside.
Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail
The victory of American patriots over British Major Patrick Ferguson's army at King's Mountain in October, 1780, was the battle that turned the tide of success in the Revolutionary War. Many of the militia men, better known as the Overmountain Men, were citizen soldiers who came from southwest Virginia, today's eastern Tennessee, and the piedmont of North and South Carolina.
The Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, established by Congress in 1980, traces the 330-mile path forged by these men, starting in Abingdon, Virginia and ending at Kings Mountain, South Carolina. Crossing numerous state and national parks, forests, reservoirs, and other highlights of four Southern states, fifty-seven miles (92 km) of the OVHT are currently developed for public use and a beautiful place to take a hike.
River Raisin National Battlefield
River Raisin, Michigan is the site of the devastating January 1813 Battles of Frenchtown that occurred during the War of 1812. The battles typified the conflicting interest central to the war but in the end, the killing and ransom of unprotected American prisoners galvanized America.
The River Raisin National Battlefield was added to the National Park Service during October 2010 and officially opened May 2011. The park offers numerous hiking and biking trails, as well as the River Raisin Heritage Trail for those War of 1812 history buffs.
Aleutian World War II National Historic Area
During World War II, the remote Aleutian Islands became one of the most fiercely contested battlegrounds of the Pacific. This thousand-mile-long archipelago saw the first invasion of American soil since the War of 1812, a mass internment of American civilians, a 15-month air campaign, and one of the deadliest battles in the Pacific Theatre.
The Aleutian World War II National Historic Area and Visitor Center in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, tell these compelling stories and preserve the historic Fort Schwatka on Mount Ballyhoo. Walk among the bunkers, fallen wooden structures, tunnels, gun mounts and lookouts of the highest coastal battery every constructed.