Each year, on the last Monday in May, our nation celebrates Memorial Day. The holiday is more than a day off from work. It is observed in honor of our nation's armed service personnel who were killed in wartime. While you enjoy the long weekend, consider taking your vacation at one of the many parks that celebrate and honor the heroes of Memorial Day.
Also, be sure to check out national parks that may offer special events during the holiday weekend.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
“Freedom is not free.” At the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, visitors will find find the expression of American gratitude to those who restored freedom to South Korea. Nineteen stainless steel sculptures stand silently under a sea of faces on a granite wall—reminders of the lives lost of defending freedom. As part of the National Mall & Memorial Parks, this memorial is a great place to visit to learn the history of the Vietnam War while you enjoy a weekend in Washington, D.C.
The public may visit the Korean War Veterans Memorial 24 hours a day. Rangers are on duty to answer questions from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 p..m., daily.
World War II National Memorial
Located in Washington, D.C., the World War II Memorial honors the service of 16 million members of the Armed Forces of the United States of America, the support of millions on the home front, and the ultimate sacrifice of 405,399 Americans. On May 29, 2004, a four-day “grand reunion” of veterans on the National Mall culminated in the dedication of this tribute to the legacy of “The Greatest Generation.”
Visitors can view granite, bronze, and water elements that symbolize the human sacrifice at home and at war. A wall of 4,048 Gold Stars silently pays solemn tribute to the sacrifice of more than 405,000 American lives. Fifty-six granite columns, split between two half-circles framing the rebuilt Rainbow Pool, symbolize the unprecedented wartime unity among the forty-eight states, seven federal territories, and the District of Columbia.
The park staff offers daily interpretive tours every hour on the hour from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Flight 93 National Memorial
September 11th is a day America will never forget. The Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, PA, honors the 40 passengers and crew members of Flight 93 who lost their lives in a struggle with hijackers who had overtaken the plane on the morning of September 11th, 1991. Because of the actions of the 40 passengers and crew, the attack on the U.S. Capitol was thwarted. The memorial is still currently being constructed, but visitors are encouraged to visit. Hours are as follows: Winter Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Summer Hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial
Located in South Dakota, Mount Rushmore National Monument was established in 1925 and commemorates the first 150 years of the history of the United States. Stunning carvings of former United States Presidents were carved into the Black Hills. Today, the monument serves as more than a work of art, but as a symbol of freedom and hope for people of all cultures.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial is open every day of the year, except for December 25. Check online for specific visitor center, shop, and cafe operating hours. January and February are usually the coldest months so if you plan a winter visit, dress warm! If you are looking for the most comfortable time to visit, try September or October.
Gettysburg National Military Park
The Battle of Gettysburg was one of the most critical battles of the Civil War and definitely deserves your attention. Gettysburg National Military Park not only commemorates the Union victory, but also recognizes the devastation the war had on local farmers and residents. A great way to explore the park is a guided tour from a licensed battlefield guide. On this two-hour tour, you will learn first-hand about the important historical events that occurred and how the park works to preserve and protect the land. You can also hike, bike, and take your time exploring the park on your own. From mid-June through mid-August, Gettysburg National Military Park offers a variety of ranger-guided programs for visitors. Subjects range from battle history to medical practices of the Civil War, and include battlefield hikes.
National Mall & Memorial Parks
Officially established in 1965, National Mall and Memorial Parks protects some of the older parkland in the National Park System. No where else will you find such ample opportunities to commemorate presidential legacies, honor the courage of war veterans, and celebrate what the United States stands for.
There are lots of things to do and see but you’re best bet is to check out the interpretive programs offered by the park service every hour on the hour from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. at theThomas Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, and Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
National Mall and Memorial Parks also manages several important memorial sites, such as Constitution Gardens, George Mason Memorial, John Ericsson Memorial, Old Post Office Tower, and Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site.
Chamizal National Memorial
The Chamizal Convention of 1963 was a milestone in diplomatic relations between Mexico and the United States. Chamizal National Memorial was established to commemorate this treaty, which resulted in the peaceful settlement of a century-long fight over boundaries. The Memorial provides visitors with an opportunity to better understand the culture of our borderland.
The memorial offers indoor activities and monthly scheduled events. The Memorial's Visitor Center and Los Paisanos Gallery are open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m, while the Park Grounds are open daily from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. The Memorial is closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day.