The official end of World War II occurred on September 2, 1945 on the deck of the battleship USS Missouri (now docked at Pearl Harbor National Memorial in Hawai‘i). To celebrate the 75th anniversary of this event we have assembled our Top 10 National Park Service (NPS) units dedicated to the war. There are more than you might think for a war fought predominantly overseas (including sites in our 62 National Parks, which we will rank in a separate list). Click here to see all our Top 10 lists, including our favorite WWII books and films.
10. World War II Memorial (District of Columbia)
This large memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. opened in 2004.
9. Gateway National Recreation Area (New York-New Jersey)
Fort Hancock and Floyd Bennett Air Field were busy places during WWII.
8. American Memorial Park (Northern Marianas Islands)
This 133-acre park honors the 5,204 soldiers and civilians who gave their lives during the Marianas Campaign.
7. Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park (South Carolina)
Coastal fortifications from the 1940s are well-maintained on the Charleston Harbor islands.
6. Manhattan Project National Historical Park (New Mexico-Tennessee-Washington)
The Manhattan Project raced humanity into the atomic age and helped end the war.
5. War in the Pacific National Historical Park (Guam)
The battlefields on Guam represent the many sacrifices made while “island hopping” across the Pacific Theater.
4. Manzanar National Historic Site (California)
The shameful internment of thousands of Japanese Americans is remembered here and also at Idaho’s Minidoka National Historic Site (under development).
3. Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site (Alabama)
Racism in the military and American society is directly addressed at this excellent interpretive site.
2. Pearl Harbor National Memorial (Hawai‘i)
Take the ferry to the emotional USS Arizona Memorial and step aboard the battleship USS Missouri.
…and finally our #1 NPS site dedicated to World War II:
1. Rosie the Riveter/WWII Homefront National Historical Park (California)
An excellent museum interprets the work done by women and minorities to supply the war effort.
Lewis and Clark National Historical Park (Oregon-Washington)
Multiple WWII coastal fortifications are preserved in this park, as well as at Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve in Washington.
Aleutian WWII National Historic Site (Alaska)
An affiliated site on the remote island of Unalaska interprets the fighting that took place in Alaska.
Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Monument (California)
Prior security clearance is required before visiting this site where 320 men died in a 1944 accident; for more local WWII history visit San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park and Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
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