Tag Archives: memorial

General Grant National Memorial

Overview

Often referred to as Grant’s Tomb, this 150-foot tall marble and granite rotunda is the largest mausoleum in North America.  Following his death in 1885, the rotunda was constructed in less than two years with donations from 90,000 individuals worldwide, the largest ever public fundraising effort at the time.  It is located on a bluff overlooking the Hudson River in the Morningside Heights area of Manhattan, where Grant spent the final five years of his life after serving two terms as President (1868-1876).

Highlights

Museum, film, tomb

Must-Do Activity

The Overlook Pavilion is separate from the rotunda and offers a few exhibits and a film about Ulysses S. Grant (plus you can put your head in an oversized $50 bill which typically bears Grant’s face).  The rotunda contains the tombs of Ulysses and his wife (Julia) who passed in 1902, as well as murals and bronze busts of fellow Civil War generals. 

Best Trail

None

Instagram-worthy Photo

Outside the rotunda is long curving bench with mosaic images (a la Gaudi) depicting different aspects of the National Park Service (NPS) system.

Peak Season

Summer

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/gegr/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

All roads are paved, but it is better to take the subway to get to this area.

Camping

There is camping available within Gateway National Recreation Area, which is managed by the NPS.

Related Sites

Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site (Missouri)

Hamilton Grange National Memorial (New York)

Statue of Liberty National Monument (New York)

Explore More –Julia Grant requested that which feature never be added to the rotunda?

World War II Memorial

Overview

The World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. was dedicated in 2004 to remember the 16-million Americans that served in uniform during the war.  It is located on the National Mall between the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial.  The seven-acre site is managed by the National Park Service (NPS).  There is not an NPS visitor center at the site, but there are information kiosks around the area, including two near the Lincoln Memorial.

Highlights

Pavilions, pillars, bas-relief sculptures, fountains

Must-Do Activity

The memorial’s design was chosen in a competition with more than 400 others and was created in 1997 by Austrian-born architect Friedrich St. Florian.  It features a large pool and fountains, two pavilions labeled Atlantic and Pacific, 56 pillars for each state and territory, as well as bas-relief sculptures and quotes from historic figures.  On the Freedom Wall, each gold star represents one hundred of the 405,399 Americans who died during World War II.

Best Trail

Walk the bridge across the Potomac River to Arlington, Virginia for a view of the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial that depicts the American flag being raised over Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima during World War II.  This is not an NPS site, but does offer a commanding view of the National Mall and is especially photogenic at night.

Instagram-worthy Photo

After dark is a great time for photography on the National Mall, and the World War II Memorial is no exception.  You might consider bringing a tripod for clearer photos.

Peak Season

Spring

Hours

24 hours a day with NPS rangers posted until 10 p.m.

https://www.nps.gov/wwii/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

All roads are paved, but public transportation is recommended in Washington, D.C.

Camping

None

Related Sites

World War I Memorial (District of Columbia)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial (District of Columbia)

Korean War Veterans Memorial (District of Columbia)

Explore More – The memorial contains two hidden “Kilroy was here” engravings; what is the significance of this inclusion?

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Top 10 World War II National Park Sites

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 National Monument (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.

Honorable Mentions

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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Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park

Overview

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park was authorized in 1890, the first park of its kind in the United States.  It covers multiple battlefields from late-1863 that straddle the Tennessee-Georgia borderline.  Though the Confederate army initially won at Chickamauga, Georgia, the Union took control of Chattanooga, Tennessee after the arrival of General Ulysses S. Grant with reinforcements in November.  Like Fort Monroe in Virginia, this area then became a beacon for escaped slaves, eventually numbering 2,000 people.

Highlights

Museums, film, driving tour, Point Park, Ochs Memorial Observatory, Cravens House, cannons

Must-Do Activity

Point Park sits on top of Lookout Mountain offering awesome views of the city of Chattanooga and Moccasin Bend on the Tennessee River.  It is also the home of Ochs Memorial Observatory and museum, one reason Point Park charges an admission fee.  The nearby National Park Service (NPS) visitor center displays the 30×13-foot painting The Battle of Lookout Mountain by James Walker.  At the Chickamauga battlefield, a seven-mile long driving tour explains what happened there on September 20, 1863.  The National Military Park also entails seven small military reservations and the Phelps Monument along the road atop Missionary Ridge, east of Chattanooga.

Best Trail

There are miles of trails atop Lookout Mountain and Ochs Memorial Observatory is only accessible by trail (and many stair steps).  It contains a museum dedicated to the Civil War and American Indians, specifically the Cherokee who passed through Moccasin Bend (which has its own three-mile loop trail) on the Trail of Tears in 1838.

Instagram-worthy Photo

The entrance to Point Park is designed to look like the Army Corps of Engineers insignia.

Peak Season

Summer

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/chch/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

$10 per person to enter Point Park or America the Beautiful pass

Road Conditions

All roads paved, but there is limited free parking available at the NPS visitor center at Point Park.

Camping

Cloudland Canyon State Park in Georgia is about 20 miles southwest of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Related Sites

Fort Donelson National Battlefield (Tennessee-Kentucky)

Shiloh National Military Park (Tennessee-Mississippi)

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park (Georgia)

Explore More – Why did President Abraham Lincoln consider capturing Chattanooga (a town of only 2,500) as important as Atlanta?

Gettysburg National Military Park

Overview

The turning point of the Civil War undoubtedly occurred on July 3, 1863 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, especially when considered in combination with the capture of Vicksburg, Mississippi.  After the Confederate invasion of the North was repulsed at Antietam, the next year General Robert E. Lee led 75,000 troops into Pennsylvania to face 88,289 Union soldiers.  After three days of fighting, there were 51,000 men killed, wounded, or missing; the most of any battle on American soil.  It can take more than one full day to visit Gettysburg National Military Park, especially if you add on a bus tour to neighboring Eisenhower National Historic Site.

Highlights

Museum, film, Cyclorama painting, driving tour, David Wills House, cannons

Must-Do Activity

It is free to take the 24-mile long driving tour, but an admission fee is charged for the museum (opened in 2008) that covers the entire Civil War, including Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address.  You should also consider watching the excellent 45-minute film A New Birth of Freedom (narrated by Morgan Freeman) and viewing the audio-visual program for the Cyclorama (a 377×42-foot original oil painting on a round canvas that depicts Pickett’s Charge of July 3, 1863).  Commercial bus tours are available and you can also hire a licensed guide to ride in your car and provide a personal two-hour tour past the 1,300 monuments and memorials where so many men gave “the last full measure.”

Best Trail

If you have read The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, you will want to get out of your car and walk around Little Round Top, which overlooks the infamous Devil’s Den, Peach Orchard, and Wheatfield.  The High Water Mark Trail and Soldiers’ National Cemetery Trail are each about one mile in length.

Instagram-worthy Photo

This site is perhaps best known for President Lincoln’s 272-word Gettysburg Address, which he gave in two minutes following a two-hour speech by Edward Everett.  Newspaper reviews from the next day were not favorable for the President.

Peak Season

Summer, though it was very busy even on a weekday in October 2016.

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/gett/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

Free driving tour, $15 per adult for films and museum (no discount for America the Beautiful pass)

Road Conditions

All roads paved

Camping

There a numerous private campgrounds around Gettysburg, and the National Park Service’s Catoctin Mountain Park is only 20 miles away, as are Caledonia and Corodus State Parks.

Related Sites

Antietam National Battlefield (Maryland)

Eisenhower National Historic Site (Pennsylvania)

Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site (Pennsylvania)

Explore More – When was the Cyclorama painting by French artist Paul Philippoteaux completed?

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