Most Visited Memorials

A great way to learn about our presidents and other important political and historical figures and events in the U.S. is to study the places that memorialize them. I’ve been to many of these places and have pictures and brochures, so when we get to one of these events/people in our classroom learning, I make sure to pull out the relevant info so the kids can see what these people have left behind physically, as well as the significance of their actions and lives. I came across this slideshow on Forbes Traveler and figure that the kids should at least be familiar with the most popular memorial sites in the States. So here they are for you to enjoy as well!

  1. Arlington National Cemetery – Arlington, Virginia (4,000,000 visitors) – Commemorates the lives of 300,000 veterans from the American Revolution through the current war in Iraq.
  2. World War II Memorial – Washington, D.C. (3,547,583 visitors) – Commemorates the sacrifice and celebrates the victory of the WWII generation.
  3. Vietnam Veterans Memorial – Washington, D.C. (3,538,479 visitors) – A memorial that honors the lives of Vietnam veterans and those who lost their lives in the Vietnam War.
  4. Korean War Veterans Memorial – Washington, D.C. (3,208,690 visitors) – A memorial to those who fought and died in the Korean War.
  5. Gettysburg National Military Park – Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (1,702,764 visitors) – Commemorates those who lost their lives during the bloodiest and most important battle of the Civil War.
  6. USS Arizona Memorial – Pearl Harbor (Honolulu), Hawaii (1,539,986 visitors) – A memorial to the sailors killed on the USS Arizona ship during the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces.
  7. Valley Forge National Historic Park – King of Prussia, Pennsylvania (1,230,618 visitors) – Important military camp during the American Revolutionary War.
  8. Minuteman National Historic Park – Concord, Massachusetts (1,093,352 visitors) – The historic site of the shot heard around the world and memorial for those who fought in the Battles of Lexington and Concord during the American Revolution.
  9. Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park – Georgia/Tennessee (923,061 visitors) – Commemorates the sites of two major Civil War battles.
  10. Fort Sumter National Monument – Sullivan’s Island – South Carolina (792,933 visitors) – Commemorates those who lost their lives in the first battle of the Civil War.
  11. Vicksburg National Military Park – Vicksburg, Mississippi (787,831 visitors) – Site of the 47 day Battle of Vicksburg in the Civil War.
  12. Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine – Baltimore, Maryland (610,599 visitors) – The birthplace of the Star Spangled Banner and an important military site during the War of 1812.
  13. Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park – Virginia (478,109) – Burial ground and memorial for those who lost their lives in the Civil War.
  14. Guilford Courthouse, National Military Park – North Carolina (447,469 visitors) –A museum commemorating one of the most hotly contested battles of the Revolutionary War.
  15. Shiloh National Military Park – Tennessee (344,438 visitors) – Site of Civil War battle and burial ground.

Test your kids. See if they know why these places are important! (If they’re in my class now, they’ll know by the end of the year…)
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Thanksgiving in Virginia

The other great colonial communities (other than the one in Plymouth, that is), was in Virginia. Jamestown and Yorktown were two of the first settlements in the New Country, established as early as 1607. For an authentic Thanksgiving experience, head out to these famous landmarks in Virginia. (Quiz your kids—they should definitely be able to talk about these!)

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Happy Thanksgiving Month!

In my classroom, November is Turkey Month. Why celebrate a fun and meaningful holiday for only one day when you can celebrate all month long? Besides spending a lot of time focusing on what we are thankful for, collecting charity for those less fortunate than we are, and learning about (and cooking) traditional American and Native American food, we spend a lot of time talking about the first settlers, American history, and early American geography. I simulate a Mayflower journey to America and we travel around the East Coast delving into all these subjects. Here are the highlights from our historical journey through New England. Ask your kids—they should be able to tell you the early significance of all these places (that is, if they have a teacher as good as I am!):

Happy Turkey Month!
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Juneteenth – Happy Freedom Day!

I’ve been teaching this whole year based on the theme “Time and Place”, so I seem to live from holiday to holiday. Recently it’s been Earth Day to Cinco De Mayo to Memorial Day, and now Juneteenth. Even though we celebrated Black History Month in February and talking about the history of African Americans then, Juneteenth is a time to specifically commemorate the ending of slavery in the United States. It was on June 19th, 1865 that the abolition of slavery was announced in Galveston, Texas and the Emancipation Proclamation that Lincoln declare two years earlier was finally enforced.

Because I like to think of my classroom as a virtual traveling time machine, we take the week or two leading up to Juneteenth to recall important landmarks and figures (black and white) in the history of slavery and emancipation.

Here is a list of places that we “visited”:

1. Booker T. Washington National Monument, a well preserved plantation that highlights major aspects of slave life in general and the life of Booker T. Washington specifically.
2. Boston African American National Historic Site, because it’s important to remember that not all blacks were slaves, especially in the North, especially in Boston, where African Americans owned homes, businesses, and land pre-Civil War.
3. Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park, where John Brown led his heroic insurrection against slavery and the site of one of the largest Civil War battles.
4. George Mason Memorial, commemorating the man who withheld his signature from the U.S. Constitution because it did not abolish slavery.
5. United States National Slavery Museum.
6. New York Historical Society, where we took a nice field trip where we saw artifacts from New York’s involvement in the slave trade.

As a not so well known holiday, Juneteenth has lately been getting significantly more press. Once only a holiday in Texas, Juneteenth is now observed in 26 states, including California, as instituted by Governor Schwarzenegger on June 19, 2005. President George W. Bush also recognizes the memorial of the enforcement of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation with his Presidential Message on Juneteenth.

Happy Juneteenth—go out and celebrate!
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