Six historic sites to visit this Veterans Day

Local parks pay tribute to those who have sacrificed for the country.

Summer 2017 at Arlington National Cemetery
Photo by Elizabeth Fraser, Arlington National Cemetery

On November 11, 1919, the country celebrated Armistice Day to mark the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Armistice Day eventually became a federal holiday in 1938, though after World War II and the Korean War, the day came to be known more generally as Veterans Day.

You can pay a quiet tribute to those who have so bravely served at these six area parks.

Arlington National Cemetery
Walk through the paradoxically inspiring and unsettling grounds of Arlington National Cemetery, where the repetition of white tombstones extends for as far as the eye can see. Be sure to show respect by remaining especially silent during all rituals and also when visiting the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Unless you are paying respects to a particular tombstone, stick to the designated road and paths.

Ball’s Bluff National Cemetery

There are 54 soldiers buried at Ball’s Bluff, one of the smallest Civil War-era cemeteries. The quaint, powerful grounds are enclosed by a short stone wall. Dense forestation surrounds the graveyard, preserving the setting of the battle that occurred there in 1861. 

Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park
A scar of the Civil War, this park hosted the Battle of Fredericksburg, the Battle of Chancellorsville, the Battle of the Wilderness and the Battle of the Spotsylvania Court House. More than 85,000 men were wounded and 15,000 were killed. This protected area is one of the largest military parks in the world.

Manassas National Battlefield Park
Two major Civil War battles unfolded here. The First Battle of Bull Run (also known as First Manassas) took place in July 1861, and then a little over one year later, came the Second Battle of Bull Run. In both instances, the Confederacy came out on top, defeating the Union. Commandeering figures like Gen. Stonewall Jackson and Gen. Robert E. Lee once walked these grounds while the country’s Northern and Southern halves were pitted against one another.

Quantico National Cemetery
Since 1775, the land that the Quantico National Cemetery sits on has been used for military purposes. Today, it is primarily dedicated to members of the Marine Corps, though highly decorated war heroes from other branches are also buried well. The tomb of World War II photographer Louis R. Lowry (who took the famous picture of soldiers raising the American flag in Iwo Jima) can be found here alongside nine other memorials.

Yorktown Battlefield
At the 1781 Battle of Yorktown, the United States defeated Great Britain to win its independence and end the Revolutionary War. There are tours of the battlefield and surrounding town available, allowing visitors to learn about how the American forces were able to corner the British during those final days.